There is currently an FCC mandate in effect that requires
all Cable companies to provide their customers a STB with a functional 1394 (FireWire) port on request. This mandate
was agreed to by the Cable companies (yes they all signed it) and went into effect on April 1st, 2004.
Back then I tried to get one and let me tell you, it wasn't easy. Shortly after another Tampa resident called the CEO of Advance/Newhouse Communications, (the parent company of Bright House Networks) the boxes became available.