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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted the waiver requested by Cablevision Systems Corp. for signal encryption of the basic cable service tier in conjunction with the cable operator’s network change to all-digital cable service in the affected areas.  Basic cable encryption requires waiver of the FCC’s rule against it, and will provide benefits including improved customer service, reduced costs, and “green” reductions in CO2 emissions and vehicle fuel consumption due to the elimination of many truck rolls to customer homes.  As conditions to the waiver approval, the FCC is requiring that existing basic-only subscribers be provided up to two set-top boxes or CableCARDs without charge for up to two years (or one box or CableCARD for one year to certain existing digital customers); provide qualified low-income basic-only subscribers up to two set-top boxes or CableCARDs without charge for five years (10 years for basic-only subscribers who would otherwise have to buy new equipment), and waiver of installation charges for these devices. 
 
Notably, the cable operator’s New York City waiver request was not opposed by the NYC franchise authority, nor by a single customer filing from its millions of area homes, although various competitors and interest groups questioned it.  (FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order, DA 10-34, January 8, 2010)  The all-digital cable service will allow automation of many service functions which previously required home visits, and all the scheduling and customer inconvenience which can result.

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