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FCC CableCARD Changes Start August 8th

Ever since last year home theater PC owners who have had an interest in CableCARD equipped PCs have been looking forward to August 1, 2011. I’m hear to tell you that your dreams have not been answered yet. Before you close your browser to go cry in a corner about how your government has let you down again, give me one second to let you know you only have to wait one more week. The original proposal from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that was released last year put a date of August 1st, 2011 for when the new rules would go into effect. As is common with government regulation though, the documentation took a little longer than expected to get finalized, and now some of the more important rule changes aren’t coming until August 8th, 2011. 

While you can always go back and read the documentation put forth by the FCC (I did, and had a great time reading between the lines) we’ll summarize the most important rule changes for you here. This all comes from section 76.1205 of the document.

  • If a cable provider allows customers to self-install set-top-boxes then they must begin allowing customers to self-install CableCARDs on August 8, 2011. If the cable company doesn’t allow self-install of set-top-boxes (STB), then they still must allow customers to self-install CableCARD, but not until November 1, 2011.
  • Cable providers must always provide multi-stream CableCARDs (M-Stream cards, all of which are capapble of six simultaneous streams) unless the customer requests a single-stream card.
  • If a cable provider uses Switched Digital Video (SDV) then their tuning adapters must support at least four simultaneous streams, or the greatest number of tuners in their set-top-boxes, which ever number is greater.
  • When offering bundled services cable companies must now offer a discount in the bundle “not less than the monthly rental fee reasonably allocable to the lease of the operator-supplied navigation device included with that offer.” when using a CableCARD in your own device.
  • The cable provider cannot impose a service fee to support a CableCARD device that you own that they wouldn’t also charge for a device rented from the cable company.
  • The rental fee for CableCARD must be clearly described on the cable bill, and it cannot be more than what the cost of the card would be in an STB.

Sources: FCC (pdf) Federal Register

Author

  • FCC CableCARD Changes Start August 8th

    Josh has been writing software since his parents brought home their first computer. His love for gadgets and technology eventually spurred a passion for home theater technology. After starting the DMZ, he received Microsoft’s MVP award for Windows Media Center. Even though the beloved home theater PC platform is all but dead he continues to tinker with consumer entertainment technology. He’s a life-long gamer and DIY smart home enthusiast. He co-hosts the Entertainment 2.0 podcast with Richard Gunther and the DMZ’s gaming podcast, Story Players, with Joe DeStazio.

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About the author

Josh Pollard

Josh has been writing software since his parents brought home their first computer. His love for gadgets and technology eventually spurred a passion for home theater technology. After starting the DMZ, he received Microsoft’s MVP award for Windows Media Center. Even though the beloved home theater PC platform is all but dead he continues to tinker with consumer entertainment technology. He’s a life-long gamer and DIY smart home enthusiast. He co-hosts the Entertainment 2.0 podcast with Richard Gunther and the DMZ’s gaming podcast, Story Players, with Joe DeStazio.