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US pay-TV operators and STB firms sign up to energy-saving plan

Fifteen leading pay-TV providers and customer premises equipment (CPE) manufacturers in the US have created a Set-Top Box Energy Conservation Agreement that is predicted to eventually result in annual residential electricity savings of US$ 1.5bn or more.

Participating operators serve a combined total of 90mn US households and include Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, Charter, AT&T, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and CenturyLink. Participating manufacturers are Cisco, Motorola, EchoStar Technologies and ARRIS.

The voluntary five-year agreement goes into effect on January 1st of next year and involves the following:

  • At least 90 percent of all new set-top boxes purchased and deployed after 2013 will meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR 3.0 efficiency levels.
  • For immediate residential electricity savings, “light sleep” capabilities will be downloaded by cable operators to more than 10mn digital video recorders (DVRs) that are already in homes. In 2013, telco providers will offer light sleep capabilities, and satellite providers will include an “automatic power down” feature in 90 percent of set-top-boxes purchased and deployed.
  • Energy efficient whole-home DVR solutions will be available as an alternative to multiple in-home DVRs for subscribers of satellite and some telco providers beginning in 2013.
  • “Deep sleep” functionality in next generation cable set-top boxes will be field tested and deployed if successful.

The new energy conservation initiative preempts the US Department of Energy’s set-top box standards initiative by five years, and will produce more energy savings overall, claim the two industry bodies driving the initiative, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The agreement’s terms include detailed processes for verification of set-top box performance in the field, as well as annual public reporting on energy efficiency improvements, and posting of product power consumption information by each company for its customers.

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