Evolution Broadband Says FCC Waiver Won't Undermine Integrated Set-Top Ban

Company tries to assuage concern that boxes' functionality could be expanded
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Evolution Broadband told the FCC Thursday that it got it right the first time when it gave the set-top box vendor a waiver from its integrated set-top ban for a limited-function low-cost box.

The FCC requires set tops to have separate channel-surfing and security functions, an effort to spur a retail market in the boxes. But it also allows for waivers for low-cost boxes sans bells and whistles.

The grant of Evolution's waiver drew protests and a petition to the FCC to reconsider the decision from consumer groups after the waiver approval was followed swiftly by four other similar requests.

But Evolution says the FCC is right in concluding the waiver will not undermine the integration ban since operators are still required to offer the separate CableCard security for the majority of boxes, that its decision was in keeping with the standard for the waiver, and said Evolution's set-tops would remain one-way devices "incapable of being upgraded to provide any kind of advanced functionality."

Evolution said it was working on its own CableCARD-compliant box.

As to the "flood" of waiver requests that followed its own, Evolution says its integrated security function is different, an open-standard security technology it says will both further development of common technologies but will increase competition in the navigation device market.

While opponents of the Evolution waiver said they were concerned that the boxes' functionality could be expanded by cable operators via hardware or software upgrades, Evolution maintained that wasn't happening. It said that there were no interfaces on the device that could be used for that purpose and no latent functions that could be "awakened."

Both the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the American Cable Association have weighed-in in support of the waiver.

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