A coalition of major consumer electronics retailers has asked the Federal Communications Commission to remove the last hurdle for competitive entry into the cable modem market. The hurdle in question: the cable operator. In an ex parte letter sent to FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC) chairman and Best Buy VP and CEO Bradbury Anderson blamed MSOs for impairing the retail distribution model for cable modems. In neglecting to give HSD customers any economic incentive to purchase cable modems in a retail environment, MSOs set forth a “disquieting trend…of technical and economic discrimination,” Anderson wrote. Citing findings by the Cable Modem Coalition (CMC), Anderson argued that several MSOs charge the same amount for modem service, regardless of the provenance of said modem. In other words, whether the unit comes from the op or the shop, the price remains the same. CERC took aim at CableLabs in its complaint as well, slamming its DOCSIS certification process (“anticompetitive and outmoded”), while arguing that lengthy certification cycles only serve to “increase time to market for competitive products.” The National Cable Telecommunications Association was quick to respond to CERC’s allegations. In a statement, NCTA senior director of communications Brian Dietz said, “The cable industry has and will continue to support a competitive market for broadband modem devices. CERC’s claims to the contrary simply are not borne out by the facts.” Dietz also stuck his chin out for CableLabs, pointing out that more than 350 HSD devices have been given the thumbs up since 1999. “The development of uniform modem specifications by CableLabs has created a vibrant marketplace for broadband access devices and contributed substantially to the rapid deployment of cable modem service,” Dietz said.