Comcast and TiVo developing retail set-top platform without CableCARD

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and TiVo are working on a new two-way solution that would enable the pay TV service's subscribers to access the full range of their Xfinity service on a TiVo set-top box purchased at retail, all without a CableCARD.

Comcast outlined the plan in a memo filed to the Federal Communications Commission July 14.

In the FCC memo, Comcast agrees to continue to support the Commission's underwhelming 2007 CableCARD initiative, part of the FCC's plan to ban integrated security set-tops and spur the sale of pay-TV-ready devices at retail. As noted by Multichannel News, which uncovered the missive, only around 616,000 CableCARDs for retail devices have been deployed since the plan was enacted versus around 47 million MSO-deployed boxes with CableCARDs.

"Comcast also has agreed to work with TiVo on a two-way non-CableCARD security solution that will enable retail devices to access the full Comcast lineup of linear and VOD programming," the memo states. "Comcast will make such an non-CableCARD solution available to other cable operators on commercially reasonable terms."

It's unclear at this point how device security would work on this platform, but the pay TV industry has been working on a number of downloadable security schemes.

As for Comcast, appearing in favor of innovation, consumer benefit and FCC goals isn't a bad thing at a time when the Commission is concurrently vetting the company's $45 billion merger attempt with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). It also could help put TiVo in the pro-merger camp. In a meeting with FCC officials in May, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers praised Comcast's support of CableCARDs, but stopped short of supporting the merger. 

"This agreement demonstrates that the marketplace is working to provide innovative device solutions for consumers to access MVPD services and thereby advance the Commission's navigation device goals," Comcast's memo adds. 

For more:
- read this FCC filing
- read this Multichannel News story
- read this Light Reading story

Related links:
TiVo remains on the fence about Comcast-TWC deal
Choice Cable asks for CableCARD deadline extension
Cable lobbyists cheer bill which would end set-top security integration ban

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