How bewildering is the Federal Confusion Commission’s set-top integration ban? An MSO that already provides separable security is applying for a waiver or at least a clarification of the rules. The FCC’s ban requires that as of July 1, cable operators no longer deploy boxes that perform conditional access and other functions in a "single integrated device"—in other words, the boxes need CableCARDs. Cablevision provides removable conditional access in all of its nearly 6mln digital set-tops, which it says makes it the only cable operator in the nation to do so. But Cablevision’s boxes use SmartCards instead of CableCARDS (the MSO supports CableCARDS as well, but CableCARD devices also need a SmartCard). The NDS-developed SmartCards contain the necessary encryption keys and other info for the protection of content while keeping the conditional access and navigation functionality separate in set-tops, CVC said. But for "avoidance of doubt," it is asking the FCC to clarify that boxes with SmartCards aren’t considered integrated devices or to issue a waiver that will let those boxes continue to be placed in service after July 1. Otherwise, the ban "would divert substantial financial, technical and human resources from Cablevision’s effort to deliver new and improved services…," the MSO said in an FCC filing Mon. Meanwhile, House Commerce chmn Joe Barton (R-TX) and Sen Commerce chmn Ted Stevens (R-AK), along with Rep Fred Upton (R-MI), are pushing for a more effective way to ensure availability of separable security for consumers who want to use 3rd-party devices than "foisting CableCARDS on all subscribers." In a letter to FCC chmn Kevin Martin, the trio said the Commission would do better to ensure cards are available for subs who want them, and establish a timeframe for cable ops to develop and deploy downloadable security. Several cable operators have asked for waivers for certain digital boxes and the NCTA has asked that the ban be deferred until ops deploy downloadable security or 2010 (whichever comes first).