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CableCARD is a device that allows CableCARD-ready devices such as computers, TVs and other devices to access cable TV without a set-top box. Users can avoid the expense of renting set-top boxes from cable providers and easily move their devices to new regions. In 2011 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission adopted rules that allow subscribers to use CableCARDs more easily.
In the U.S., cable TV subscribers typically rent their digital cable set-top boxes from their service providers. This can add substantially to the cost of cable service. A CableCARD allows subscribers to watch cable TV without having a set-top box, if their devices are so equipped. These devices could be PCs, TVs or other set-top boxes. The card decrypts the cable signal and ensures that only authorized subscribers can view it.
The FCC has required cable operators to support CableCARDs for several years. The rationale is to foster competition in the cable industry. CableCARDs are leased from cable providers for much lower rates than set-top boxes.