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ACA Applauds FCC's Proposed HD Set-Top Box Exemption

The American Cable Association applauded the Federal Communications Commission for proposing new rules that would allow all cable operators to offer low-cost, low‐functionality High Definition set-top boxes as a substitute for expensive CableCARD-enabled boxes mandated under regulations in effect since July 2007.

"ACA commends the FCC for recognizing that small cable operators can provide better service to their customers, including faster broadband speeds, by having greater flexibility under existing set-top box rules to offer low-cost, High Definition boxes," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

The FCC announced its decision on April 21. ACA is hopeful that the FCC will adopted the rule changes by the end of the year.

The FCC's current set‐top box rules require separable security, which has raised the per-unit cost of these devices and made it harder and longer for cable operators to transition to all-digital networks. Digital networks will utilize reclaimed analog bandwidth to provide consumers with more advanced services, including more HD content and faster broadband download speeds.
During the transition, cable operators need to ensure that cable subscribers do not lose access to programming converted to digital; to do so, the cable operator must provide a digital set‐top box for each of its subscribers' televisions. The FCC's proposed rules would allow ACA members to go forward with the transition by relying on low-cost integrated HD boxes, reflecting the market reality that millions of consumers have purchased HDTV sets.

ACA advocated for new set-top box rules over the past few years. ACA is pleased that the FCC recognized the hardship that its cable set‐top box rules is causing smaller operators. Once these operators can free‐up channel capacity, they can continue their upgrades to DOCSIS 3.0 and supply customers with stunningly fast broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

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