Light Reading

Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

There's a big political battle brewing about the way the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) believe two-way "Plug & Play" should emerge onto the marketplace.

In one corner is the OpenCable Platform, which is being pushed to the hilt by the U.S. cable industry. In the other is the CEA's non-OpenCable proposal called DCR+.

The FCC is expected to scrutinize both proposals, because the cable and CEA have been unable to find common ground on their own, as they did in late 2002 with the one-way Plug & Play agreement, which the FCC later adopted.

That one-way agreement paved the way for CableCARD-capable TVs that could display digital cable content, including premium networks such as HBO, without a separate set-top box. Those same sets, however, cannot handle interactive, two-way services such as video-on-demand (VOD) without a set-top.

The FCC is expected to just pick a two-way option unless the cable industry and the CEA can negotiate a deal on their own. The agency has not set a timeline for that decision, but chairman Kevin Martin seems to want it done before the 2008 holiday season, which falls just ahead of the hard digital-TV transition on Feb. 17, 2009.

Timing clearly was in mind when the NCTA submitted its comments to the FCC on Aug. 24, suggesting that the OpenCable Platform "is not only the fastest path for retail: It is the only one that has any prospect whatsoever of bringing two-way retail options to consumers and retailers in time for the year-end 2008 holiday selling season."

The NCTA also chided the CEA's DCR+ proposal, occasionally referring to it as the "consumer-minus solution, because it would strip away cable services and features that consumers want and expect," including all of the interactive services offered by cable today.

The CEA likewise filed comments to the FCC on Aug. 24, claiming DCR+ lets devices have a "limited set of interactive services" such as VOD, impulse pay-per-view, and switched broadcast video -- without the OpenCable Platform. It also claims to permit access to all interactive services offered by cable MSOs through OpenCable "but would make certain minor modifications to that technology and its licensing requirements."

The CEA believes the DCR+ approach would open up access to two-way services, including VOD and switched digital video (SDV), that are not accessible under the one-way Plug & Play deal.

The cable industry, meanwhile, has proposed its own solution when it comes to SDV and the current base of one-way products. The so-called "Tuning Resolver," a small adapter, would allow one-way Digital Cable Ready sets to receive networks in cable's switched video tier. (See NCTA Sees Solution to Switching Snag.)

The NCTA also questioned the commercial availability of DCR+. That technology, "while promoted by some CE companies as a whisper away from current standards, is purely vaporware," the NCTA claimed.

In turn, the association pointed out that a handful of major MSOs are either deploying or testing the OpenCable Platform. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has it installed on 41 headends and more than 100,000 set-tops, while Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is conducting tech trials in four markets.

Cox Communications Inc. is trying out OpenCable set-top boxes from Samsung Corp. in two markets -- one using Scientific Atlanta for conditional access, the other using Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT).

The NCTA also held that several consumer electronics companies, including Samsung, Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502), and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , have already signed licenses to build two-way retail devices. Silicon giant Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) was the latest to join this group of licensees. (See Intel Goes Inside Cable... Again and Cable Intel-ligence.)

Another aim of OpenCable played up by the NCTA filing: The specs let content developers write interactive applications that work on all cable systems outfitted with the platform, "creating a national footprint."

The NTCA claims DCR+, by contrast, would require new VOD protocols, new program guide protocols, a costly and time-consuming redesign of a multi-stream CableCARD, and would derail the development of next-gen downloadable conditional access systems.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Light Reading's conference in November will attempt to answer all of the big questions around white box networks. No pressure...
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE in Budapest ITU 2015

10|13|15   |   03:26   |   (0) comments

ZTE Chief Architect David Huo discusses the company's progress on the 5G front.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Close-up on ConfD

10|12|15   |   10.21   |   (0) comments

Tail-f's Renée Robinson-Stromberg tells Steve Saunders about the powerful ConfD management interface.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Women in Comms: Highlights From Dallas

10|12|15   |   2:23   |   (1) comment

The best soundbites, quotes and words of wisdom from leading women from Intel, AT&T, Verizon and Genband at our recent WiC breakfast in Dallas.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
NetNumber Founder on Managing Signaling Control

10|12|15   |   6:36   |   (0) comments

NetNumber Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Doug Ranalli describes the essential complexity of real-world signaling-control and how NetNumber enables carriers to bring signaling-control "under-control". Learn why virtualization alone isn't the answer.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon Gets Proactive on App Performance

10|12|15   |   04:50   |   (0) comments

SDN is turning traditional service models around to allow Verizon to measure and deliver performance at the application layer. As Shawn Hakl, VP of enterprise networking and managed solutions for Verizon, explains, the carrier had to develop new skill sets and change some of its internal operations, but the payoff was happier enterprise customers.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Tail-f, Cisco & What the Future Holds

10|9|15   |   8:17   |   (0) comments

Steve Saunders meets with Tail-f's Director of Technology, Carl Moberg, in Stockholm to discuss becoming part of Cisco, ETSI MANO, virtualization and the need to combine science and business in order to create opportunities for service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Broadband Forum Embraces SDN & NFV

10|9|15   |   02:42   |   (1) comment

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Robin Mersh and Kevin Foster from the Broadband Forum explain how the industry body is adapting to meet the SDN, NFV and cloud needs of the access network sector.
LRTV Interviews
Top Tips for FTTH Operators

10|8|15   |   02:26   |   (0) comments

At Gigabit Europe 2015, Ventura Team co-founder Richard Jones talks about some of the key business case considerations for FTTH network operators.
LRTV Interviews
M-net Calls for FTTx Unity

10|8|15   |   03:45   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe event, Jörn Schoof from M-net, the Munich city network operator, calls for industry collaboration on fiber broadband access rollouts.
LRTV Documentaries
The Business Case Challenge for NFV

10|7|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Virtual CPE is one of the early success stories for network functions virtualization, as service providers are finding flexible, programmable CPE solves a lot of logistics problems and reduces their cost. But even here, Masergy Communications faced a business case challenge, says CTO Tim Naramore.
LRTV Interviews
JT Offers Some Gigabit Lessons

10|7|15   |   4:08   |   (1) comment

Barna Kutvolgyi, managing director, Global Consumer, at JT, the incumbent operator on the island of Jersey, talks about how other service providers can learn from his company's gigabit broadband rollout experiences.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Network appliances have a strong value proposition in today's networks and will continue to do so in the NFV and SDN-enabled networks of tomorrow.
Hot Topics
Dell Buys EMC for $67B in Biggest Tech Deal Ever
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/12/2015
M&A Speculation Swirls Around Juniper
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/6/2015
Cord Cutting? 'Fraid so.
Brett Sappington, 10/7/2015
Cisco Makes 'Martian' Connection
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/9/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
"What?! I'm on with Finisar about their stock price tanking" Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Think NFV is just about virtualization? Think again!

Network architects are learning that there's a lot more to the technology than first thought – more complexity, that is; but also, more potential benefits.

On May 29th 1 PM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM, HP Communications Solutions Business at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!