As of this month, Comcast has officially joined the ranks of cable operators that are now offering self-install kits for CableCards.

As first reported by Light Reading, Cox started offering the self-install CableCards in July. Also last month, the Federal Communications Commission adopted several new rules for CableCards. Among the rules was one that said cable operators had to offer self-install CableCards by Nov. 1 of this year. In addition to traditional set-top boxes, the CableCards could be used in DVRs from the likes of TiVo and other vendors, as well as in TVs.

The FCC's CableCard mandate dates back to 2007, and one of its goals was to encourage the sale of set-top boxes in a retail environment, which never really materialized. CableCards paired with switched digital video also had the unintended consequence of not working well with some retail DVRs, most notably TiVo.

In theory, the self-install kits will cut down on the number of truck rolls by cable operators, but their biggest impact will probably be with customers picking up a CableCard to go with their retail DVR or other retail device.

"Certain markets have had limited self-install options for CableCards since about 2007," said Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer. "Beginning in early August, we'll start rolling out a CableCard self-install program across our footprint where customers will be able to go into our sales, service or payment centers and pick up a CableCard self-install kit, go home, install it, and then call in to activate it."

Comcast doesn't ship the CableCard self-install kits to customers.

"You can come and pick it up, or we'll drop ship it to you and you can install it on your own," said Catherine Mitchell, executive director of video product management for Cox Communications. "It was an FCC mandate that we provide that capability, and technically it provides customers the option to have a professional install or self-install regardless of what their need is for a CableCard."