Technology

CEA, NCTA Agree on Set-Top Energy Efficiency

Say new box energy standards will save consumers $1.5 billion 12/06/2012 01:53:26 PM Eastern

Equipment manufacturers and cable operators may not be on
the same page about what kinds of set-tops should be in the home, but they are
in agreement on the color: green.

The Consumer Electronics Association and the National Cable
& Telecommunications Association have struck a voluntary agreement on
set-top energy conservation that they say will result in $1.5 billion in
residential energy savings.

Participating companies make up a who's who of the top MVPDs:
Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter,
AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink, as well as
consumer equipment companies Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar and ARRIS.

According to the agreement, which goes into effect Jan. 1,
2013, at least 90% of all new set-tops bought and deployed by cable ops will
meet EPA Energy Star 3.0 levels, which the EPA says make those boxes 45% more
efficient than boxes that don't meet that standard, according to CEA and NCTA.
In addition, "light sleeper" mode software will be employed by cable
ops to more than 10 million DVRs already in use, and satellite operators will
include a power-down feature in 90% of the set-tops they deploy.

"A deep sleep" mode is also being tested for
next-generation set-tops.

"Providing American consumers with innovative services that
deliver great video content and reduce in-home energy costs is win-win for
customers and participating companies," NCTA president Michael Powell said.
"Multichannel video providers and device manufacturers are proud to participate
in this unprecedented initiative, and we will continue to pursue even more ways
to reduce the overall energy footprint of our services."

The companies involved in the initiative will meet regularly
to update the program as needed, said Gary Shapiro, president of CEA.

The initiative is on top of projected energy savings from
the FCC's decision to allow cable ops to scramble
the digital basic tier,
which is estimated to save millions of truck rolls.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) praised the industry, and called on it to set even higher standards of energy efficiency.

"Television set-top boxes cost consumers $3 billion each year in electricity charges, but a stunning $2 billion of that is wasted when televisions are not in use," Feinstein said in a statement. "Last year, I asked the industry to utilize more efficient equipment, and I am very pleased they have taken the first step to accomplish that. I would like to congratulate the 15 companies that joined today's agreement, which will save consumers billions of dollars in reduced electricity bills."

She urged the industry to keep working on reducing the boxes' energy footprint. "I hope the industry will continue to work with stakeholders to develop and deploy more efficient equipment that meets Energy Star 4.0 specifications as soon as they are finalized next year," she said, and added that the goal should be set-tops that turn off when not in use.

"I commend the industry for proactively developing a consensus agreement that will save their customers money, and not waiting for a federal mandate that forces them to act, said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). "This agreement is a wonderful example of how we can capture the benefits of energy efficiency without relying on top-down government, where Congress chooses the winners and losers instead of the market."

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