I put out feelers all last week about Verizon’s hope for a last-minute waiver before the July 1st CableCARD deadline… and came back empty-handed. But late yesterday the FCC made its long-awaited announcement: Verizon has been granted its waiver request and can continue shipping set-tops with integrated security.
It’s been interesting to watch the clock run down on Verizon. The company has been steadfast in its belief that a waiver was coming, but analysts were starting to show skepticism. The set-tops that Verizon uses for its FiOS TV deployments are Motorola boxes, but they’re different from the hardware Motorola sells to cable companies. With no order in for a “host” version of the Verizon set-tops, it’s unclear what the operator would have done if the FCC hadn’t handed out the 11th-hour reprieve.
The waiver was given on the basis that Verizon is committed to transitioning to an all-digital network by February 17, 2009, and presumably because the technological challenges to creating a CableCARD-compliant QAM/IP set-top (such as Verizon would need) are unique.
Meanwhile, the FCC, unsurprisingly, denied further waiver requests from Comcast and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). Tomorrow, most U.S. cable operators will start shipping only CbleCARD-compliant set-tops.