updated 08:45 am EDT, Fri October 15, 2010
Offers consumers options, will enforce changes
The FCC late Thursday posted a key set of rule changes (PDF) that should improve access to CableCARD for DVRs and other set-top boxes. The changes were instituted in response to the ongoing failure of cable companies to deliver cheaper CableCARD alternatives for consumers in addition to rental-only set top boxes. The choice should help some consumers save on paying rental fees for services that they don't need.
Other key changes to the rules also include CableCARD fees being standardized, regardless of a user's package, ensuring that where self-installs are available that customers are also offered CableCARD self-installs, and that cable companies must support SDV for CableCARD users.
The FCC has also issued a warning to cable providers that they plan on enforcing the changes and that cable must make information regarding the pricing information of services more transparent and easy to understand whether published on the web, or supplied on bills.
Many had hoped the FCC would deliver a tougher ruling on the matter, but it is believed that more clearly defined rules for cable providers will arrive with AllVid, which is the next standard that the FCC proposes to replace CableCARD with in the short to medium term.