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Guide

CableCARD: Know Your Rights

New rules went into effect on August 8, 2011, that clarified and expanded rights for owners of CableCARD-ready devices.  Here are a few things you need to know.

  • Pay only for equipment you have.  Your operator must give you a discount on any packages that include the price of a set-top box if you choose to use your own CableCARD-enabled device.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(5).
  • Accurate information on the rental cost of a CableCARD from your provider.  Your operator must list the cost of a CableCARD rental on its website or billing inserts and on its annual rate notice, and must provide you with this information when you call.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(5), 76.1602(b).  Typically operators charge $2-4 per month to rent a CableCARD.
  • Use your own set-top box without extra charge.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(5)(C). Your cable operator may charge you to lease a CableCARD or tuning adapter, but may not charge you an additional service fee for using your own digital-cable-ready television or set-top box. 
  • Self-install your CableCARD.  Effective August 8, 2011, cable operators must allow self-installation of CableCARDs if they allow self-installation of other equipment, such as digital boxes or cable modems.  By November 1, 2011, all cable operators must allow self-installation of CableCARDs.  Your operator may decline your request for self-installation if your equipment manufacturer or vendor does not provide you with instructions on how to install a CableCARD and offer a toll-free telephone number for product support.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(1).
  • Receive the number of CableCARDs you request.  If you opt for a professional installation by your cable operator, the technician must arrive with at least the number of CableCARDs you request.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(3). If you opt for self installation your operator must provide them to you through their normal self-installation procedures (for example by mailing them to you or letting you pick them up at the operator’s local retail location).  Some CableCARD devices may require two CableCARDs to access all features.  Refer to your user manual for more information.
  • Receive a multi-stream CableCARD unless you request otherwise.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(2).  If you have a retail device with more than one tuner and that device supports multi-stream CableCARDs, one multi-stream CableCARD can allow you to access multiple simultaneous channels. 
  • Receive all “linear” channels (channels other than “on-demand”) in your subscription package.  This includes premium channels and specialty channels.  For some channels delivered using a technique called “switched digital video,” you may need a second device called a “tuning adapter.”  This device is typically provided at no additional charge to CableCARD customers.  FCC Rule 76.1205(b)(4).  CableCARD-ready devices currently cannot receive your cable operator’s Video on Demand services. 
  • Get accurate information about services available to CableCARD subscribers.  FCC Rule 76.1205(c).

If your cable operator does not resolve your concern, you may file a complaint with the FCC and/or your local franchise authority.  To file your complaint with the Commission, click on www.fcc.gov/complaints.

For more information about CableCARDs, go to: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/digital-cable-compatibility-cablecard-ready-devices.

For more information pertaining to the Media Bureau, please call:  (202) 418-7200.

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