One of Michael Powell’s last acts before leaving the FCC was to push through an order on the set-top integration ban. The ban requires cable ops to only deploy CableCARD enabled set-tops after July 1 ’06. The Commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the ban on integrated set-tops, but postponed the effective date by 12 months from July ’06 to July ’07. It’s the 3rd time the Commission’s deferred the deadline. The 12-month delay is meant to give cable ops time to investigate and develop a downloadable security solution that will allow common reliance by cable operators and CE manufacturers on an identical software security function without the additional costs inherent in the CableCARD solution. The ruling is a defeat for the Consumer Electronics Association, which had argued that the deadline needed to remain. Cable wanted the ban eliminated or at least postponed. — Cable To-Do List: Thurs’ order contained requirements for cable industry. It must report to the Commission by Dec 1 on whether development and deployment of downloadable security is feasible. If determined to be feasible, cable must provide a timeline for deployment and state that it will use downloadable security in its own devices. Cable also must draft licensing terms for the security. The 6 largest cable ops (Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Charter, Adelphia and Cablevision) must file status reports on CableCARD deployment by Aug 1 and every 90 days thereafter. The reports are to address the # of cards in service, the monthly price for cards, whether service calls are required for installation, problems encountered with the cards and a timetable for deployment of multi-stream CableCARDs. The Commission also ordered NCTA and CEA to file joint status reports and hold joint status meetings with the FCC on the progress of 2-way plug & play negotiations by Aug 1 and every 60 days thereafter. — Only Cable Can: NCTA said it was pleased the deadline was postponed and that it will demonstrate "beyond a doubt that cable operators are making CableCARDs work with Digital Cable Ready devices." It noted that more than 31K CableCARDs have been provided to customers by cable ops, and it expects the number to grow.