Sunflower Broadband’s “Great Digital Set-top Box Giveaway” has left it asking the FCC for an emergency extension to continue deploying set-top boxes that don’t have CableCARDs for a little while longer. The FCC denied Sunflower’s request for a waiver for the July 1 set-top integration ban, but did give it and a few other operators until Sept 1 to stop deploying boxes with integrated security. To deplete its inventory of integrated Motorola DCT-700s, Sunflower launched a promo in late July offering customers free digital boxes through Aug 31 (Cfax, 8/14). If a box was deployed by Sept 1, it could be redeployed when a sub returned it because they were disconnecting, upgrading, etc. The promo was “more successful than anticipated,” plus the operator saw an unprecedented digital take-rate among Univ of KS students in Aug. Sunflower told the FCC that it expected to deploy all the DCT-700s by Sept 1 but thought enough subs would return their boxes that it wouldn’t need to order CableCARD boxes in the near-term. It thought wrong. On “extremely short notice,” Sunflower said it placed an order for Pace’s Butler CableCARD compliant box. A purchase order dated Aug 24 shows Sunflower ordering 1152 Pace boxes at $149 each, but Sunflower said Pace won’t be able to deliver them until between late Oct and late Dec. It needs to order about 1K-2K more DCT-700s in the interim to meet estimated demand—otherwise, it faces being short about 500 boxes a month until the Pace boxes come in. Sunflower wants an emergency extension of the Sept 1 deferral until its compliant set-tops arrive. “Absent the deferral, Sunflower will be forced to cease deploying its entry-level, all-digital simulcast services to new or upgrading subscribers,” Sunflower wrote in its filing to the FCC. “Such a result is highly undesirable and directly contrary to the Commission’s mandate to increase the availability of digital services to all Americans.”

The Daily

Subscribe

Ratings

ESPN ’s “Monday Night Football” MegaCast of the showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders delivered an average audience

Read the Full Issue
The Skinny is delivered on Tuesday and focuses on the cable profession. You'll stay in the know on the headlines, topics and special issues you value most. Sign Up