Light Reading

Cable Defends Its SDV Crutch

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
6/29/2010
50%
50%

Even though few cable customers need tuning adapters to view switched digital video (SDV) channels, the devices have represented a flashpoint in the debate over proposed short-term "fixes" in the CableCARD rules.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) , in reply comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late Monday, came out in defense of the tuning adapter, a discrete device used to help TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) boxes, and other inherently one-way CableCARD-based devices, access programs in a cable operator's switched video tier. The NCTA thinks those adapters -- made by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) -- are doing the job just fine.

But TiVo is making a big stink about tuning adapters, claiming the approach is a kludge that asks customers to attach another set-top. TiVo has proposed an alternative that it thinks is more elegant: an IP-based communications back-channel that would link the DVR with the cable operator's headend to set up the SDV sessions. (See TiVo, Cable Re-Spark SDV Debate .)

In its reply comments, the NCTA contends that it's demonstrated that tuning adapters work, and that the five largest US cable operators are already providing them free of charge.

It's more clear than ever that the tuning adapter market is a small (albeit vocal) one, as just more than 31,600 cable subscribers are using tuning adapters today to access SDV content, according to the NCTA. By comparison, the US cable industry has 43.5 million digital video subs. However, the number of consumers needing tuning adapters could rise significantly when Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) begins to deploy SDV aggressively this year and next. (See Comcast Getting Ready to Uncork SDV.)

The NCTA also argued that TiVo's IP back-channel proposal doesn't belong in this round of rulemaking. It's not necessarily against the idea, but suggests instead that the FCC move the topic into what's being called the "AllVid" notice of inquiry (NOI). AllVid could end up creating rules for all multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), and not just the cable industry. (See All About the FCC's AllVid and FCC Inches Towards Net-Agnostic Gateways.)

The NCTA likewise claimed that TiVo is pursuing an IP back-channel tailored to its needs so it can avoid having to make the kind of tru2way-compliant box that most major US MSOs are supporting. (See Comcast Closing Tru2way Gap .)

Does size matter?
The NCTA also tried to suppress TiVo's complaints regarding the size of the tuning adapter. TiVo claims that it was originally in favor of the tuning adapter because it thought the resulting device would be a small, out-of-the-way dongle, not a larger, set-top sidecar box.

The NCTA countered that tuning adapter shipments simply are not at high enough volume to justify the costs for Cisco and Moto to design new, smaller versions. The lobbying group also wondered why TiVo is lodging such a complaint in the first place, noting that the DVR pioneer actively markets a hard drive made by Western Digital Corp. (NYSE: WDC) that's about the same size as Cisco's tuning adapter. Here's the evidence NCTA supplied to the FCC to make its point:



The NCTA also shot down a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) suggestion that cable provide more technical support for retail devices, claiming there is no need for the FCC to impose a "new open-ended rule" and that such responsibility should be shared equally among MSOs and consumer electronics firms.

"If a retail device is not working," the NCTA said, "cable operators will ensure that the CableCARD is working, but the retail equipment is otherwise the responsibility of the customer and the device manufacturer, which should have its own technical support lines, firmware and software updates, set-up and troubleshooting procedures, and return or refund policies."

The FCC's proposed rules aim to remedy issues with the CableCARD regime as the commission gets ready to pursue the broader AllVid NOI. Only about 520,000 cable subs use retail "navigation devices," which include a limited number of set-tops from TiVo and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) (via its acquisition of Digeo Inc.) and several digital TVs that are outfitted with CableCARD slots. (See Arris Digs Digeo and CableCARD Update .)

The FCC docket is expected to fill up with additional reply comments on this matter from TiVo and others with skin in the game. Light Reading Cable will follow up with a roundup of the arguments being made as the Commission prepares to vote on the proposed CableCARD rulemaking later this year.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2010, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Las Vegas, November 9-11. For more information, or to register, click here.


(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:31:08 PM
re: Cable Defends Its SDV Crutch


NCTA claims that Tuning Adapters work fine, though I've seen consumers report both sides of it-- some say they do indeed work fine, while others have reported trouble.  For the few of you out in the real world that actually use Tuning Adapters, where do you stand on this?  Are TAs okay, or should TiVo's IP pathway be considered in this round and not for the broader AllVid notice of inquiry at the FCC? JB

Mashman
50%
50%
Mashman,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:31:07 PM
re: Cable Defends Its SDV Crutch


They need to make changes NOW!


My experience with TWC in Austin, with a Cisco STA1520 has been less than adequate.


The tuning adapters work fine for maybe a day or two, and then they just stop working.  I need to call TWC and ask them to reset them.  The process to do this requires action on both thier end and mine, and can take more than an hour!


THIS IS NOT A SOLUTION!!!


Last summer I lived in the Cincinnati area, and had Insight cable - never had a single problem with my cablecards.  Come to Austin, and TWC with SDV, and it's unbearable! 


I actually don't believe that the problem is with the tuning adapter architechture.  I believe that the problem lies with TWC, and either thier incompetence in setting up the architechture correctly, or more likely they are INTENTIONALLY fouling this up to try and push people to use thier boxes!

Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Interviews
In the Cloud With Telecom Italia

3|5|15   |   7:10   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders sits down with Telecom Italia's Simone Battiferri at Mobile World Congress to discuss virtualization, agility and the economic advantages of the cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
New Ways of Working

3|5|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Hong Kong Telecom's Michael Yue explains how the transformation in its business has changed its customer relationships.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bridging the Digital Gap

3|5|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Boingo's Dr. Derek Peterson explains how ICT can help telcos bring the physical and virtual worlds closer together.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Making the Internet of Things Affordable

3|5|15   |   2:42   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Telefonica's Dr. Mike Short explains how the Internet of Things demands a new low-cost approach to connectivity from telcos.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Evolution, Not Revolution

3|5|15   |   2:00   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan explains why telcos can't be too hasty in their efforts to transform themselves.
LRTV Custom TV
Management & Orchestration Enablement Strategies Required for NFV Commercial Success

3|5|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


NFV commercial success rests on successful service orchestration strategies which can span heterogeneous physical, virtual, legacy and next-gen networks. Network data and security integrity are additional key aspects. Nakina provides a suite of orchestratable network integrity applications built on an open, scalable MANO enablement platform.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.