The American Cable Association is petitioning the FCC for a ruling to allow small and medium-sized cable operators to use low-cost integrated HD set-tops.

Evolution Broadband has such a product available, but because the box has integrated security, its use requires a waiver from the FCC. Evolution is reported to be preparing such a waiver, according to Multichannel News.

The ACA is encouraging the FCC to be prompt in issuing such a waiver, arguing that the lack of such a product is a serious hindrance for small and medium sized cable operators.

“Today many small and medium-sized operators face a significant dilemma as they seek to transition their systems from analog to digital,” ACA president and CEO Matthew M. Polka wrote in a letter to the FCC. “Essentially, these providers must choose between: (1) purchasing and deploying low-cost non-HD integrated set-top boxes to consumers, or (2) waiting to see whether the Commission expands the applicability of the Cable One Order to permit any cable operator to purchase and deploy low-cost, limited-capability HD set-top boxes.”

The Cable One order allowed Cable One to use integrated set-tops.

In its letter to the FCC, the ACA said, “it is appropriate to add HD functionality to the list of one-way capabilities that can qualify for a waiver of the general rule.” Arguing that most consumers who buy HDTVs are primarily interested in being able to view HD content, and are only marginally interested in the types of two-way services that justify the integration ban, “We see no reason to provide a regulatory incentive to deprive consumers of the HD-quality programming they expected and paid for when they purchased their sets.”

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