CableCARDS a Tough Install, Providers Report

For those of you in the cable-installation game, some interesting numbers emerged this week from the FCC, to which the National Cable and Telecommunications Association is required to submit quarterly statements updating the agency on the progress of CableCARD adoption.

If you don’t know, CableCARDS are devices — mostly they’re cards, literally — that can de-code the encrypted digital signals cable companies pipe into your house. In essence, they can be inserted into a high-end TV or TIVO, and basically replace a cable box entirely. They’re still relatively unpopular (the NCTA reports that the five biggest cable providers, together, have deployed 516,000 CableCARDS into retail devices like TVs or third-party devices like TIVOs — meanwhile 32 million cards were activated in cable boxes).

One of the more interesting aspects of the report is a statistic that each of the five top cable companies — Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner — have to report: Average number of van rolls required to deal with servicing CableCARDS. And what we find is that cable companies are all having to send technicians out more than once to set these things up.

As FierceCable.com reports:

“While most cable operators offer subscribers a self-install option for CableCARDs, the NCTA report shows that the security devices are forcing operators to execute multiple truck rolls in order to get the CableCARDs working properly. With an average of 1.5 truck rolls per CableCARD install, the security devices are creating the biggest headache for Charter. Time Warner Cable averages 1.4 truck rolls per install, followed by Cox (1.1), Comcast (1.04) and Cablevision (1.0).”

One and a half truck rolls per installation? Seems like a lot for Charter. The amount these companies charge per installation also varies — CableVision is on the high end, charging $34.95, plus a $2 monthly lease fee. Comcast, on the other hand, does not have a lease fee, and only charges $7.15 for installation fee, so long as it’s part of an installation of another service as well. A CableCARD-only installation fee costs $26.

The report also details some of the different customer complaints that lead to truck rolls. All in all, some interesting reading if you live in that world.

ABOUT Ian Stewart

Ian is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.