CableCARD: What Happened? Page 3

UPDATE - November, 2006

0610_realitybytes200The federal government is reading my innermost thoughts again. Last month, I slammed the FCC's decision to force CableCARD into new TVs. You'll recall that CableCARD is essentially a cable box in a PCMCIA Type II card.

Brilliant idea, except for the facts: 1) CableCARD is fundamentally flawed because it can't support features such as interactive program guides, video-on-demand, and pay-per-view. 2) It has created its own incompatibility nightmare because CableCARD 2.0 may allow all of those features, but 2.0 cards won't work in TVs that already have CableCARD slots. 3) The whole thing could become obsolete very soon because of new software standards.

Meanwhile, 6 million TVs with CableCARD slots have been sold. If you estimate that a slot added $300 to the cost of a TV, then we've paid $1.8 billion for all of those slots. But less than 3% of those 6 million TVs actually have cards plugged in - which means that each working CableCARD has cost consumers $10,000! Any way you price it, CableCARD has failed in the marketplace, and manufacturers have virtually stopped putting the slots in their new TVs.

That will now change. Reading my deep thoughts, the government rigged up a lawsuit, and a federal appeals court upheld the FCC mandate requiring cable companies to distribute the failed CableCARD. The FCC's deadline: July 2007. Words cannot describe what I am thinking. And apparently my tinfoil hat can't prevent the government from listening.

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