The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has provided a CableCARD status report to the Federal Communications Comission. For the most part the association documents the adoption rate, consumer costs, rate of incidents, and other metrics of current CableCARDs amongst the top cable providers. However, the more interesting news is the status of CableCARD 2.0 on track for 2006 deployment. The current CableCARD tecnology provides the ability to decrypt and display digital cable without the need of a cable box, whereas the CableCARD 2.0 spec allows for both multistream (for dual tuning DVRs) and bidirectional communication (interactive program guide, Pay Per View, and Video On Demand). Initially, only multistream 2.0 CableCARDs will be released with bidirectional functionality following in only another year or so if we’re lucky.
Tivo has promised a HD-capable DVR with CableCARD support next year.
NCTA says: The Commission asked for a report on the “effort to develop and deploy a multistream CableCARD.” We are pleased to present the following information in response to that request. The specifications for Multistream CableCARDs and the Multistream CabelCARD interface are complete. The “M-card” will operate in a backwards compatible, single-stream manner with single stream devices (for example, in a UDCP); or in the multi-stream manner with multi-stream devices. See CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specification OC-SP-CCIF2.0-I02-050708, http://www.opencable.com/specifications/. Pre-Qualified samples of the multistream CableCARD will be submitted to CableLabs for preliminary testing in the fourth quarter of 2005, with the expectation of full testing and qualification early in 2006. It is expected that multistream CableCARDs will be widely available for use in commercially available commercial devices by mid-2006.