The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin enforcing the cable set top box “common reliance” rules, an important step toward freeing consumers from being forced to lease a set top box from their cable company. Today’s milestone also follows the FCC’s release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on two-way plug-and-play and its denial late Friday of a blanket request from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to waive these important pro-competitive rules for the entire cable industry.
The FCC’s rules requiring common reliance implement a congressionally-mandated competitive cable equipment marketplace. The rules require cable companies to provide customers who lease set top boxes from their cable provider, and those who choose competitive equipment available at retail, with the same security module, called a CableCARD.
“We have finally arrived at the July 1 implementation date, and soon consumers will be offered the widest choices in both equipment and services,” said CEA President and CEO, Gary Shapiro. “Between this momentous milestone and last week’s action by the FCC to bring two-way plug-and-play devices to market, consumers will soon reap the benefits of the competitive marketplace that Congress envisioned over a decade ago.”
The CableCARD rules, which went into effect on July 1, require cable operators to make operational the CableCARD in their own set top boxes offered for lease to consumers. The FCC has repeatedly found that its rule provides cable companies with the necessary incentive to ensure that the CableCARDs are fully functional when used in competitive equipment, including set top boxes and digital cable ready televisions. Manufacturers have already shipped over eight million such competitive devices.
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