FCC OKs Waivers For Huawei, Evolution DTAs

The Federal Communications Commission approved waiver requests from Huawei Technologies and Evolution Broadband, exempting five more low-cost, limited-function set-tops for a three-year period from a rule prohibiting cable operators from using boxes with integrated security functions.

The waiver approvals come after the FCC OK'd similar digital terminal adapters, or DTAs, from Motorola, Cisco Systems, Pace, and Thomson (which has since adopted the Technicolor name), as well as two previous models from Evolution.

The devices cleared by the FCC were Huawei's DC-730 and DC-732 set-top boxes; and Evolution's DMS-2002-CA (an MPEG-2 SD DTA with integrated security from Conax), DMS-1004-CA (an SD MPEG-4/2 DTA with integrated security from Conax), and DMS-2002-U (MPEG-2 SD DTA designed to work in existing Motorola and Cisco cable systems).

The DTAs meet the commission's criteria for waiver of the integrated set-top ban because "the Subject Boxes are only capable of doing what is necessary to make digital cable programming viewable on analog television sets," the FCC said in its Feb. 3 order. Both vendors filed their waiver requests in September.

The FCC's integrated set-top ban forces cable operators to use the same separable security technology used by consumer-electronics manufacturers in cable-ready devices, which today means separable CableCards. That, in turn, is supposed to ensure consumers can purchase compatible navigation devices from sources other than their cable provider.

Additionally, Evolution last summer requested for a waiver to the integrated set-top ban for a sub-$100 HD DTA. That request is pending before the FCC.