CableCARD is a bust with just 443,000 installed

Long ago, in the late 90's, telecom companies got together and created the CableCARD, a PCMCIA card that would let users access cable providers' digital cable without having to use their hardware. The CableCARD would make cable providers compliant with the Telecoms Act of 1996.

Over a decade later, it's an old joke. Virtually everyone uses provider-loaned set-top boxes, and less than half a million CableCARDs are used in the wild.

According to Multichannel News, Only 443,000 CableCARDs are in use in non-cable-company-provided devices. In contrast, the top 10 cable providers have installed 16.7 million of their own set-top boxes. While the provided boxes also use CableCARDs, since they're being provided by the cable companies themselves it essentially defeats the purpose.

CableCARD is hardly in use outside of provided boxes, and there's already an alternative coming down the pipe. Tru2way is a pending standard that will allow equipped televisions to directly access digital cable services without an extra box or card. It's over a year in development and it's already seen a dozen companies sign on, including Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba, and LG.

Of course, we'll see if, in 2018, only a handful of TVs are using that, too.

Will Greenwald

[Source: Multichannel News via Engadget HD]