The FCC’s inaction on cable’s waiver requests for the July 1, 2007 set-top integration ban appears to be taking a toll. BendBroadband has told the FCC that Motorola stopped accepting orders for the DCT-700 last Thurs, citing the July 1 ban that requires cable ops to only deploy boxes with a CableCARD. A Moto spokesman left a message for Cfax late Mon, saying that, “There’s absolutely no truth to that.” Calls for further comment were not returned by deadline. BendBroadband counts Moto as its only existing supplier of low- cost boxes, and views the boxes as critical for its digital simulcasting. The cost difference from the sub-$100 DCT-700 set-top to Moto’s new, low-end DCH-100 set-top appears great, with RCN reporting the new box runs $232. Several MSOs—including BendBroadband, Comcast and Charter—asked the FCC months ago to exempt lower-end boxes from the deadline. Some exemption requests include S-A’s Explorer 940 set-top and Pace’s Chicago box. S-A said it will continue to accept US orders for the box until July (longer if the FCC grants an exemption), and it will keep selling the box outside the US after that date. Pace’s Chicago is currently only deployed in Canada, with the vendor still accepting US orders for it. Overbuilder RCN is the latest to file a waiver request, petitioning the FCC Fri to have Moto’s DCT-700 exempted from the ban. RCN said that smaller operators are disproportionately burdened, as it believes that larger competitors are ordering millions of the DCT-700 prior to July 1, thus putting smaller operators with smaller orders in jeopardy of not receiving the boxes. Last week, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts visited the FCC to again make the MSO’s case for the waiver. NCTA and Millennium Digital Media chmn Kelvin Westbrook also called upon the Commission, pressing for action. NCTA wants the entire ban deferred until cable ops deploy a new downloadable security system, or until 2010, if they haven’t deployed the tech by then. Meanwhile, The Electronic Frontier Foundation is backing CEA’s argument to keep the ban in place and circulating a form letter urging the FCC not to grant cable’s waiver requests.

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