American consumers for the first time will soon be able to receive digital high-definition television (HDTV) programming via cable without the need for a set-top box. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), by year's end, more than 1 million so-called "Digital Cable Ready" (DCR) HDTVs are expected to be sold in the U.S.
Under terms of the cable-consumer electronics "plug-and-play" DCR agreement, ratified last fall by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), CEA officially notified Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs) that more than a half million Digital Cable Ready HDTVs are expected to be on the market through Sept. 30, 2004 with more than a million HD sets and cable subscribers needing a CableCARD by the holiday season.
That same number of CableCARDs will be needed to support the rollout of the dual ATSC-cable tuner integrated television sets. Coupled with a positive fourth-quarter forecast, this means explosive growth, eclipsing a million units in just 6 or 7 months, according to CEA Director of Industry Analysis Sean Wargo.
"The extraordinary forecast represents DTV manufacturers' rollout of integrated products having both ATSC tuners for off-air reception and cable tuners for digital cable reception," said MR. Wargo.
CableCARDs are to be available directly from operators beginning July 1 -- the date by which cable multiple system operators (MSOs) with digital systems (of 750Mhz) are required to support FCC-endorsed Digital Cable Ready standards.
CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro said, "Receiving HDTV over cable without a set-top box is a long-awaited driver of the DTV transition and will provide millions of households with a seamless transition to high-definition."
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