& cplSiteName &

Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
8/28/2007
50%
50%

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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 28, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit 101
Will Barkis, Senior Technology Analyst, Orange
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (12) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
LRTV Interviews
Peering Into the Digital Future

9|20|16   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


Nick Thomas, practice leader of digital media at Ovum, talks about how digital transformation in the technology, media and telecom sectors will enable the development of a new range of applications and services for enterprises and consumers and how the upcoming Digital Futures event in London will examine ...
LRTV Custom TV
Napatech Tackles NFV's Major Challenge

9|7|16   |   08:42   |   (0) comments


One of the main challenges for network operators introducing NFV is to combine performance and flexibility in a cost-effective way, but there is a solution, explains Napatech's Dan Joe Barry.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Optical Innovation 2016

9|6|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of the 2016 Huawei Optical Innovation forum.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Are You Ready for Huawei Connect 2016?

8|31|16   |     |   (0) comments


Join us for an exclusive sneak peak of Huawei Connect, an integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem taking place in Shanghai.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/21/2016
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2016
Comcast Will Go Wireless in 2017
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/20/2016
Sprint CEO: We'll Lease Spectrum as Soon as Possible
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
You Thought Your Customer Service Was Unreliable... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.