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Pace, Thomson Join DTA Waiver Parade

Two more suppliers of digital-to-analog adapters -- Pace and Thomson -- have filed requests with the Federal Communications Commission to be allowed to sell the low-cost devices with integrated security features to cable operators.

The companies filed their petitions asking for waivers to the FCC's ban on integrated set-tops on June 11, a day after incumbent cable equipment vendors Cisco Systems and Motorola submitted similar requests.

The FCC released notices Thursday soliciting public comment on the Pace and Thomson proposals; comments on both are due June 29. Pace requested waivers for its DC50X and DC50Xu DTAs and Thomson petitioned for a waiver for its DCI104 and DCI105 devices.

All four vendors were responding to the FCC's recent approval of a three-year waiver to Evolution Broadband for two sub-$50 DTAs, which Evolution is now able to supply to any cable operator. In granting that waiver request, the FCC said it would expedite similar requests from competitors.

The FCC's ban on set-tops with integrated security went into effect for most MSOs in July 2007.

The rule is intended to foster a market for consumer electronics like TVs or DVRs that are able to access encrypted cable programming. The FCC's "common reliance" theory is that by forcing the cable industry to use its own separable security standards, which today mean the industry's removable CableCard devices, those technologies will work better.

As of March 23, the top 10 MSOs had deployed more than 12.35 million CableCard-based boxes to comply with the rule, according to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.