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Old 12-04-2013, 09:18 PM   #1
cherrytree
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How much does a cablecard cost the cable co?

I'm planning to buy a Roamio Plus, and I just signed up for Verizon Fios and learned that the cablecard will cost me $5/month. This seems appallingly high. I am coming from Comcast that charged me $1.50 for two CCs.

Does anyone know how much the cable cos/Verizon actually pay the equipment makers for a CC?

I am curious what payback period Verizon is enjoying (e.g., a 3-month payback assuming a CC costs $15).
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:54 PM   #2
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I think it's much more in the $100 range - they are not mass-market items with competition. I think there are basically 2 manufacturers both with captive audiences (it's very difficult to change from one manufacturer to the other.)
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:12 PM   #3
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There are something like 4 or 5 manufacturers of CableCards, but your cable company has to use the cards that are manufactured by the company that manufactured their head-end equipment. 99% of the time that is either Motorola or Cisco (formerly Scientific Atlanta). There are NDS and CONAX cards out there, and I believe one other manufacturer, but NDS, CONAX, and others are very rare.

They can't easily switch, because that would involve switching basically everything in the system--the headend, all set top boxes, the software controlling everything, etc.

They probably aren't *very* expensive though because they are in every set top box the cable companies rent. There is a limit, something like 11%, on the profit cable companies can make on their set top equipment. I don't know if that applies to cable cards as well but they cannot charge "exorbitant" fees on cable cards vs. STBs (IE: a cable card can't cost as much or more as a full set top or DVR). I'm sure they include the costs of all the infrastructure like activation websites, the servers, and even tuning adapters in their cost basis.
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:31 PM   #4
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Well if it's a $100 I feel a bit better. It's surprising that Comcast would only charge $1.50/mo for a $100 piece of equipment. Perhaps it is trying to demonstrate to the FCC a bit of goodwill.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:09 AM   #5
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I think it's much more in the $100 range - they are not mass-market items with competition. I think there are basically 2 manufacturers both with captive audiences (it's very difficult to change from one manufacturer to the other.)
No way in hell are they $100, they are in millions of cable STBs now by FCC mandate. I'd bet a card is no more than $25 now, if that.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:34 AM   #6
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No way in hell are they $100, they are in millions of cable STBs now by FCC mandate. I'd bet a card is no more than $25 now, if that.
They have more invested in cable boxes than you'd expect. I'm sure they have it down as much as possible--the on premise part of Cisco and Motorola's business has razor thin margins--but $100 for a custom PCMCIA card isn't out of the realm of possibility. Probably the upper end of the range, but possible.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:38 AM   #7
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I'm planning to buy a Roamio Plus, and I just signed up for Verizon Fios and learned that the cablecard will cost me $5/month. This seems appallingly high. I am coming from Comcast that charged me $1.50 for two CCs.

Does anyone know how much the cable cos/Verizon actually pay the equipment makers for a CC?

I am curious what payback period Verizon is enjoying (e.g., a 3-month payback assuming a CC costs $15).
Comcast might charge less for the cable card, but Comcast also has some type of outlet fee and/or HD fee which makes it more expensive than what FiOS charges. I'll take the $5 FIOS cable card charge over what Comcast charges. At least that is the case in my area. I was shocked when I priced out Comcast for a comparison how much they wanted for their stuff. FiOS was easily less expensive.
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:15 PM   #8
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I am sure it is not a very high dollar amount considering that the lost equipment fine for a cablecard on Cablevision is 40 bucks.
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Comcast might charge less for the cable card, but Comcast also has some type of outlet fee and/or HD fee which makes it more expensive than what FiOS charges. I'll take the $5 FIOS cable card charge over what Comcast charges. At least that is the case in my area. I was shocked when I priced out Comcast for a comparison how much they wanted for their stuff. FiOS was easily less expensive.
True for additional outlets but the first card is free for most cable companies. I pay $5 a month to Fios for even the first one. Now that I'm down to one card, Fios is $3-$5 a month more than most cable companies.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:34 PM   #10
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You are forgetting to factor in the extra hours and hours of technical support calls for cable cards users.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:37 PM   #11
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90+% of them inflicted by their own intransigence in not wanting to support cards, of course.
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:10 PM   #12
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Comcast might charge less for the cable card, but Comcast also has some type of outlet fee and/or HD fee which makes it more expensive than what FiOS charges. I'll take the $5 FIOS cable card charge over what Comcast charges. At least that is the case in my area. I was shocked when I priced out Comcast for a comparison how much they wanted for their stuff. FiOS was easily less expensive.
Charter only charges me $2/ea for CableCARDs with no outlet fee.
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Old 12-05-2013, 04:56 PM   #13
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Charter only charges me $2/ea for CableCARDs with no outlet fee.
If you don't have a cable provided box, Charter doesn't charge for the first cablecard. At least that is the case in all-digital areas.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:28 PM   #14
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That is true, the first one is free the additional ones are $2/ea. I have 3
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:00 PM   #15
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Big Grin Cost of Cable Cards

Cablecards run $6 - $10 average on EBay. $30 would be a high price.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:53 PM   #16
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Those are technically stollen. It would be like buying electronics out of the back of a van. They'll always be cheaper because the cost to the seller was $0.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:13 PM   #17
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Cablecards run $6 - $10 average on EBay. $30 would be a high price.
But most of those are cablecards the cable company already bought. Most on eBay are stolen or are never returned to the cable company.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:27 AM   #18
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Fios charges $100 for every cablecard not return. So I think the $100 range is correct. Do they let you pay a one time fee to own it?
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Old 12-06-2013, 08:48 AM   #19
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Fios charges $100 for every cablecard not return. So I think the $100 range is correct. Do they let you pay a one time fee to own it?
No, you cannot buy the cablecard. It wouldn't do you any good anyway. You cannot use a cable card from one cable company on the system of another.

The CableCard is designed to be the smallest part that the cable company can still force you to lease from them.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:14 PM   #20
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This article: http://www.multichannel.com/blogs/tr...er-means-cable says they cost about $50 independently of the box they're installed in

Another article I was reading about the Charter waiver said that Charter claimed requiring them to use cable cards vs. embedded legacy security in their new boxes would require "$40 million in additional expense for every million boxes" lending credence to the ~$50 figure, ignoring any additional costs that having a CC-enabled box vs. embedded box would cost which is probably negligible.

All of those numbers ignore the extra costs involved in software, customer support, and integration into their systems as well. Some of those costs are ongoing, not one-time costs.
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:47 PM   #21
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My cable company charges $70 for each CableCard (no option to rent), and they say they are just passing on the expense.
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Old 12-06-2013, 06:33 PM   #22
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My cable company charges $70 for each CableCard (no option to rent), and they say they are just passing on the expense.
That doesn't seem like it meets the FCC regulations. You don't have to buy outright a set top box (or a cable card for a rented set top box) so you shouldn't have to buy your cable card up front, though at some cable company rental rates $70 once is not a bad deal. Do they swap it for you for free if it is bad or goes bad?
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:09 PM   #23
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Per the comments of JosephB and AdamJ (your names sound like rappers ), it sounds like a CC costs $40-50. Considering my Series 3 got six+ years of use, I'm thinking I'll use my Roamio Plus for around 5 years. So Verizon will get $300 from me (assuming it doesn't raise the $5/mo price) for a $40-50 piece of equipment. Well played Verizon.

To Verizon's credit, though, it doesn't charge a monthly ONT fee or wireless router fee. While Comcast doesn't charge for the first CC, Comcast charges me $7/mo for an EMTA.
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:45 PM   #24
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That doesn't seem like it meets the FCC regulations.
I don't think the FCC regulations on cablecards apply to regional providers. And in most cases, it is much cheaper in the long run with these smaller carriers since they aren't trying to make money off cablecard rentals.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:41 AM   #25
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Cablecards run $6 - $10 average on EBay. $30 would be a high price.
But what good are those CC when the service provider has to verify the SN and authenticity of the card in order for your channels to come through?
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Old 12-07-2013, 01:21 AM   #26
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But what good are those CC when the service provider has to verify the SN and authenticity of the card in order for your channels to come through?
It has very limited uses for people who happen to only need those limited uses. A cable card without activation from your cable company can still tune some basic/local channels.
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Old 12-07-2013, 02:50 AM   #27
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It has very limited uses for people who happen to only need those limited uses. A cable card without activation from your cable company can still tune some basic/local channels.
But a cable card from an outside cable company isn't going to work. It's not going to download any channel maps or anything.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:42 AM   #28
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It has very limited uses for people who happen to only need those limited uses. A cable card without activation from your cable company can still tune some basic/local channels.
Only if it is from the same cable co that issued the card
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:22 PM   #29
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That doesn't seem like it meets the FCC regulations. You don't have to buy outright a set top box (or a cable card for a rented set top box) so you shouldn't have to buy your cable card up front, though at some cable company rental rates $70 once is not a bad deal. Do they swap it for you for free if it is bad or goes bad?
Nope, they don't swap it for free unless it is DOA or goes bad almost immediately.

I looked at the regulations, and, as I read it, there is an option for them to sell the hardware at a reasonable cost. I'd much rather pay a couple dollars a month.
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Old 12-10-2013, 02:52 PM   #30
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I'd rather pay the $70. Charter only charges $2/mo for the cards, but they could raise the price at any time. At $2/mo the payback is 3 years but at $5/mo, like FIOS charges, payback is just over a year. These things have no moving parts so they're unlikely to fail over time. They'll either work or they wont from the gate, and after that you'll really never have to worry about them. $70 for life isn't a bad deal at all.

This is kind of like the cable modem. I was paying $5-7/mo to rent a cable modem for years. (they raised it somewhere along the line, didn't notice exactly when) Then I realized that I could buy my own for about $80. I've had that modem for 2 years now and it still works fine. It's more then paid for itself.
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