CableCARD Cost to Hit Comcast Customers
Congress decided in 1996 that consumers should have the option to buy their own cable boxes. This requires an "integration ban" that would effectively pry security technology loose from the box. Over the protest of the cable operators, the Federal Communications Commission will finally implement the integration ban on July 1, more than a decade after the legislation requiring it. Cable ops must then either provide a CableCARD-compatible box, on request, or a card for compatible DTVs. Or you could just go to a store and buy a box.
Multichannel News quoted the National Cable & Telecommunications Association as saying the new legal requirement would cost $72-93 for each set-top box. That would work out to $2-3 a month, in the cable-op scheme of things.
The Comcast move has a political as well as a financial motive. By sticking consumers with the cost of the CableCARD (and inflating it), cable operators may well be hoping to turn consumer sentiment against the card and the government requirement for it.
True, the horse is out of the barn, but if you don't think cable operators are capable of acting out of sheer spite, take a look at the monthly charge that's been on my Time Warner Cable bill since Congress acted in 1996. It's for $.06 and labeled FCC Regulatory Fee.
[Thanks to Chris Llana, editor of dtvprimer.com, for correcting some factual errors that originally appeared in this story. Any remaining errors continue to be my own.]