Cox, Motorola launch retail set-top program in Hampton Roads
Taking a step closer toward the promise of retail-ready digital cable boxes, Cox Communications said two consumer electronics dealers in the Hampton Roads, Va. area are making Motorola Broadband 's new DCP501 Home Theater System available in their retail showrooms.
The DCP501 features a DVD/CD/MP3 player, a digital audio/video receiver and a digital receiver that can tune digital cable channels on the local Cox system. Motorola introduced the box at the 2002 Consumer Electronics show in January. The DCP501 carries a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of $899 per unit, according to CED's most recent figures.
Motorola said the two CE dealers - Audio Connection Inc. in Chesapeake and Domes Audio Video Environments in Virginia Beach - are the first to retail the DCP501.
It isn't the first time, though, that Cox has made digital cable boxes available via retail. Set-top maker Scientific-Atlanta Inc. disclosed recently that the operator is selling the high-definition-television-capable Explorer 3100HD set-top to customers in Phoenix, Ariz. for about $499 per unit.
The Motorola and S-A boxes that Cox is making available at retail feature embedded (and proprietary) conditional access (CA) and encryption systems. Future OpenCable-based set-top boxes and television sets will separate out those elements through point-of-deployment (POD) cards and POD-host interfaces. In addition to being retail-ready, those devices theoretically will be as portable as DBS receivers are today, allowing consumers to use the equipment in other OpenCable-compliant cable systems.
As an interim step, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has encouraged cable operators to prime the retail pump with legacy, proprietary digital cable set-tops. That plan, introduced by the NCTA last fall, calls for cable operators to sell proprietary boxes through retail and offer to buy them back on a depreciated basis if, for example, a customer moves to an area where the cable system might not be compatible with the box.