There are many reasons why both cable systems and equipment suppliers benefit from downloadable set-top terminals, but there are many decisions to be made in developing a downloadable set-top system. Downloadability can take place at several levels of complexity. A downloadable firmware system should be designed for open development. While set-tops should accept firmware incrementally, this poses a challenge to the system controller and its operator. There are new considerations for reliability, separate from those of classical communications. The design should also cover the use of inband video channels for downloaded firmware, and be mindful of various consumer acceptance issues.