Microtune Shares Test Data on Non-Compliant CECB’s with NTIA
Microtune, Inc. (NASDAQ: TUNE) sent a letter yesterday to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) identifying a matter of critical importance to the U.S. government and to American consumers in the successful implementation of the U.S. digital television transition.
Through internal testing in its Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) lab, Microtune has discovered tuner-related performance failures in certain certified* coupon-eligible converter boxes (CECBs) that do not contain Microtune tuners. These converter boxes are widely available in retail channels. Their failure to meet NTIA regulatory performance requirements could potentially result in the loss of digital TV reception in a number of major metropolitan areas, potentially impacting the millions of Americans who will rely on these converter boxes to receive free over-the-air TV broadcasts. Microtune has made its test results, the methodologies of which have been reviewed and validated by a third-party industry expert, available to the NTIA.
“As a U.S. tuner company and as a stakeholder in the country’s historic conversion to digital TV transmission, we believe it is vital to raise an issue that could dramatically impact the success of this transition,” said James A. Fontaine, President and CEO of Microtune. “The NTIA has established rigorous and necessary performance standards for the CECB program, which is subsidized by the U.S. government, and the NTIA requires converter box manufacturers to comply with these technical standards. To protect the interests of American consumers, we have vigorously urged the NTIA to quickly audit through expanded testing potentially non-compliant converter boxes that are currently in production, and we have offered to support its efforts by briefing its representatives on our test findings.”
Mr. Fontaine added, “The ability to reliably receive digital terrestrial broadcasts is an important issue for consumers nationwide, not only in the near-term, but also when broadcasters move to final channel assignments after February 2009. Poor or non-performing converter boxes could create lack of confidence not only in the digital TV transition, but also in other digital TV products as well.”
Microtune has been a committed supporter of digital TV receiver performance standards for all television products targeted to the U.S., including converter boxes, digital and HD TVs, and all TV peripherals.
Background on the NTIA Certification Process
Under the final NTIA rule (72 Federal Register 12097) and subsequent instructions regarding the CECB program, manufacturers are required to provide their own certified test report verifying that they meet all Technical Requirements under Technical Appendix 1 to Part 301 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program (47 C.F.R. 301). Manufacturers are also required to submit samples and certify that these samples are representative of production units. The final NTIA rule also provides for the FCC to review manufacturers’ results and samples, as well as for the NTIA to audit converter boxes available at retail stores and to withdraw certification of non-compliant models.
To read Microtune’s letter to the NTIA, visit: http://www.microtune.com/news/2008Articles/MTLetter.pdf
Backgroun Information on U.S. Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program
The NTIA is the agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce charged with overseeing the digital-to-analog converter box coupon program. It established minimum performance requirements and features for set-top converter boxes that would be considered eligible in the government-funded CECB program. This $1 billion program, which is currently under Congressional consideration for expanded funding, subsidizes the purchase of converter boxes for consumers who wish to continue to use their analog TVs after February 2009, when U.S. analog broadcasts will largely be shut off. The NTIA certification and approval process ensures that converter boxes meet feature and performance specifications, including challenging tuner-related requirements. The NTIA has already begun mailing converter box coupons to US households.
Microtune, Inc. is a silicon and subsystems company that designs and markets radio frequency (RF) solutions for the worldwide broadband communications and transportation electronics markets. Inventor of the MicroTuner single-chip broadband tuner, Microtune offers a portfolio of advanced tuner and amplifier products that enable the delivery of information and entertainment across new classes of consumer electronics devices. The Company currently holds 76 U.S. patents for its technology. Founded in 1996, Microtune is headquartered in Plano, Texas, with key design and sales centers located around the world. The website is http://www.microtune.com.
Microtune Forward Looking Statements
Even if the NTIA performs audit testing of converter boxes that Microtune currently believes are non-compliant with the NTIA performance specifications, there can be no assurance that Microtune’s tuner products will capture the available CECB market.