On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau granted Cablevision an 18-month extension on its set-top box waiver.

The five-page waiver, which was signed by Media Bureau Chief Monica Desai, gives Cablevision until the end of 2010 to switch over to set-top boxes with CableCards. Until then, Cablevision can continue using its SmartCard-based set-top boxes.

“As a result of Cablevision’s swift compliance with, and early adoption of, technology that they believed would meet the Commission’s regulations, and their further commitment to meet certain milestones in the deployment of a compliant downloadable security solution, we find good cause to grant an 18-month extension of Cablevision’s current waiver,” Desai wrote.

While noting that Cablevision has “shown good cause for a temporary extension,” Desai said the nation’s fifth-largest cable operator could face fines of up to 5,000 per day if it misses any of the upcoming deadlines.

In July 2007, cable operators were forced to switch over to set-top boxes with CableCards, although some were granted waivers by the FCC.

In general, cable operators consider the CableCards costly additions with no benefit to subscribers. Cable operators would rather use a downloadable security option instead of the CableCards, but the FCC wasn’t willing to wait for downloadable security.

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