The Federal Communications Commission granted a waiver to Cablevision that basically allows the MSO to continue using set-tops with encryption.

One of the concerns the Telecommunications Act of 1996 tried to address was the cable industry’s control of access to their encrypted video signals, exercised through set-tops that combined both the capability to receive the signals and to decrypt them. Among the aims of the Act were to protect those consumers who wanted video service but did not want to pay for a set-top box and to encourage a retail set-top market, both indicating the support of at least some unencrypted channels.

In order to do that, the FCC commanded that security systems be separate from set-tops. That edict on separable security went into effect in 2007 and said that at least basic tier channels be available unencrypted.

Cablevision argued that nearly all (more than 99 percent) of its subscribers already have cable boxes, and if it were granted the waiver, for those customers who want basic service it would provide boxes for up to 10 years at no cost.

Cablevision argued that if granted a waiver that would allow it to encrypt all channels, the result would be that Cablevision could “reduce costs, improve customer service, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, alleviate traffic, and have virtually no negative impact on customers.”

In short, the FCC agreed.

Cablevision’s official response is: “We are pleased that the FCC granted our request, which will benefit customers and decrease costs.”

More Broadband Direct 1/12/10:
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•  Nation's 3rd-largest school district switches to Optimum Lightpath
•  Cablevision gets FCC encryption waiver
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•  Broadband Briefs for 01/12/10