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Charter Cable to FCC: Let’s Deal – New TV Encryption in Return for 100Mbps Broadband

Phillip Dampier April 18, 2013 Broadband Speed, Charter Spectrum, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 2 Comments

Charter_logoIf the Federal Communications Commission allows Charter Communications to deploy a new, enhanced encryption system for set-top boxes that will allow it to scramble any or all of its video channels, it will offer broadband service up to 100Mbps to at least 200,000 additional homes within two years and transition every Charter Cable system in the country to all-digital television service.

The proposed deal was addressed to the Commission in a brief letter from Charter Communications CEO Thomas Rutledge on Apr. 4.

Charter is trying to negotiate a two-year waiver to allow the company to deploy a cheaper and more robust downloadable set-top box security upgrade that initially does not support CableCARD technology. Charter’s proposal will leave its legacy conditional access platform in place to give CableCARD users a temporary reprieve until the next generation of CableCARD technology becomes available in retail outlets. Other customers will eventually have to get a set-top box for every television in the home once the company converts to an all-digital platform. QAM service will not be available if Charter encrypts its lineup.

Charter wants to move away from analog service to increase bandwidth for DOCSIS 3 broadband upgrades and providing more HD channels to customers.

The commitment to offer up to 100/5Mbps service may not tax Charter too much. Multichannel News reports Charter’s regulatory filings show the majority of Charter Cable systems can already offer 100Mbps service today.

Charter ended 2012 with DOCSIS 3.0 deployed to 94 percent of its homes passed, “allowing us to offer multiple tiers of Internet services with speeds up to 100 Mbits download to our residential customers.”  About 98 percent of Charter’s cable network supported 550 MHz or more of capacity at the end of 2012.

Rutledge is attempting to repeat the success he had at Cablevision convincing the FCC to waive costly set-top box upgrade requirements. Cablevision also received a waiver allowing it to encrypt its entire video lineup in the New York area, in part to combat signal theft.

The Consumer Electronics Association is opposed to the cable industry’s efforts to adopt their own closed standards for set top security, preferring AllVid, a proposed next generation version of the CableCARD that will work with all types of video services, not just cable television.

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7 years ago

Typical, they’re just bargaining with chips they were planning to spend anyway. That’ll be 200,000 high-income urban homes they expand and upgrade their cable network to, which is just additional revenue for them anyway. Not to mention 100Mbit they could offer today if they wanted, or needed if they ever were to face real competition. I’d like to see them offer something that benefits their community at large that takes a real investment, like expanding out to unserved or under-served areas with only 1-3Mbit services to offer 100Mbit. Plus they can’t be allowed to drop CableCARD users or allow those… Read more »

7 years ago
Reply to  Scott

Charter is so full of s**t – they lied to us for years saying that they offer all digital channels when they really were not . False advertising . So their new deal is calling the encrypted service full digital channels. Greed – i Tell ya – Greed. Most don’t realize that Charter has gone bankrupt several times and their customer service sucks so bad – people are dropping their service b/c they cannot get a straight answer or they are being charged for services they didn’t order. I use to work for them – i had seen the inside… Read more »

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