& cplSiteName &

Consumer Groups to FCC: Redo the Set-Top Rules

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
12/18/2009
50%
50%

Do-over!

A handful of consumer groups are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rev up a new rulemaking process that would establish the technical underpinnings for a "standards-based gateway" that can access video services from all multichannel video programming (MVPDs) -- meaning cable, satellite operators, and the telcos -- and pipe in video from the Web. (See Consumer Groups Want New Set-Top Rules.)

That group -- made up of Public Knowledge, Free Press , Media Access Project , Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. , CCTV Center for Media & Democracy, and the Open Technology Initiative of New America Foundation -- is also asking the FCC, in its 45-page petition filed Friday, to combine all its open proceedings related to the commercial availability of set-top boxes and device interoperability, and to freeze all separable security waivers until the new rules are updates. IPCO LLC, a set-top maker, is also asking the FCC to sunset all the existing waivers, claiming that they're damaging its ability to sell inexpensive "CableCARD-compliant" boxes. (See Box Maker Blames FCC for Everything.)

At this point, the FCC, as part of its broader effort to develop a National Broadband Plan, is only seeking comments on how the Commission can "encourage innovation" in the video device market and spur the development of boxes that can deliver traditional video services from MVPDs and provide a bridge to Web-sourced video content. Separately, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has asked the Commission to open a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the all-MVPD issue, hoping it may produce a network-agnostic interface for retail devices that would apply to all video service providers, and not just cable. (See FCC: Retail Set-Top Is Possible, at Least and Whither the CableCARD?)

"This [FCC] inquiry is an important first step... but much more needs to be done," the consumer group argued.

The group also contends that new rulemaking is required because "there is no competitive market for video devices at present," though it does allow that market conditions haven't prevented the emergence of over-the-top boxmakers/service providers such as Boxee and Roku Inc. . (See Roku 'Store' Opens With 10 Channels , Roll Video: The Boxee Box Event , and Ronen: Boxee Isn't a Cable Killer.)

Their beef is the separable security rule that took effect in July 2007, noting that the mandate and cable's subsequent use of the CableCARD has failed to create a vibrant retail market for set-top boxes, with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) and Digeo Inc. (now part of Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)) among a small group that presently offers CableCARD-capable set-top boxes at retail. And those host boxes are inherently one-way, meaning they can't access switched digital video (SDV) channels without a separate, somewhat kluge, Tuning Adapter. (See CableLabs Stamps SDV Tuning Adapters .)

The group also argues that consumers have not embraced tru2way at retail in a big way, referring to a CableLabs -specified platform that creates a common headend and set-top middleware architecture that supports video-on-demand (VoD), SDV, and other interactive applications. Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) is the only TV maker that's tried to sell tru2way-certified TVs at retail, though more rampant tru2way retail efforts aren't expected to occur until the nation's largest MSOs get their headends prepared for the platform. (See Denver, Chicago First to Get Tru2way TVs, Comcast Wired for Tru2way by Year's End , and Tru2way's Retail Forecast: Cloudy .)

All-MVPD offers some common ground
But the group agrees with NCTA that the FCC should look into the development of a standards-based "all-MVPD," something that DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), the nation's largest satellite TV provider, continues to resist. (See DirecTV Disses Cable's 'All-MVPD' Plans.)

NCTA has suggested HDMI-CEC (High-Definition Multimedia Interface -- Consumer Electronics Control) as a possible common interface, but the petition group has a few ideas of its own, proposing a "universal video gateway" that provides common, standard methods for five elements: a physical connection, a communications protocol, authentication, service discovery, and content encoding. (See Cable's Got Ideas for a Universal Retail Box .)

As for the interface, they think the gateway should provide, at minimum, a 100Mbit/s Ethernet port, and perhaps a wireless interface using WiFi, or something else.

The result would "serve as a common bridge between diverse MVPDs and consumer video devices," reiterating a position that CableCARD isn't the answer because it was designed to be solely a cable technology.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), however, is using the CableCARD to separate security in its more advanced digital boxes. Last fall, Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) "validated" the VueKey, a security module that borrows from the CableCARD design, but is optimized for IPTV. Verizon's considered to be a likely candidate for the VueKey. (See ATIS OKs CableCARD for IPTV.)

Regardless, many industry sources in cable and outside of it believe that any future, separable security option will involve renewable, downloadable methods that would some day render the CableCARD obsolete. — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:50:46 PM
re: Consumer Groups to FCC: Redo the Set-Top Rules
NCTA president & CEO Kyle McSlarrow issued a statement in response to the consumer group filing, reiterating that the cable org agrees that "current rules have not facilitated a vibrant retail marketplace for video devices. We also agree that today's marketplace is nothing like the GÇ˙cable-centricGÇÖ world that existed when the statute was adopted."
Which is why NCTA says it supports a "broad inquiry" on ways to explore the development of video devices, including all-MVPD platforms.
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
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.
Shades of Ray
Why Analytics Is the Tech World's Digital Glue

3|27|17   |   02:20   |   (0) comments


It was obvious at the massive annual CeBIT enterprise tech trade show that the foundation for tech innovation right now is real-time analytics.
LRTV Custom TV
CommScope – Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow's Networks

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Phil Sorksy, Vice President International at CommScope, discusses addressing the challenges faced by service providers today, and as future trends emerge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
AMS-IX & Huawei's OSN 902

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shows how its OSN 902 platform helps the Amsterdam Internet exchange to connect the world using multiplexing.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Smart Energy Innovation Center

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In Nuremberg, Huawei showcases its latest capabilities in the digitalization of Internet resources, network infrastructure and intelligence at its Smart Energy Innovation Center.
Valley Wonk
OFC & Hyperscale: A Good Mix?

3|24|17   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Cloud and telecom players want different types of equipment for their networks, as the chatter at OFC reveals.
LRTV Custom TV
Etisalat on NFV Journey

3|24|17   |   10:37   |   (0) comments


Etisalat is a service provider that prides itself on bringing innovative technologies to the markets it serves. It was one of the first operators to implement 3G and leads the pack in fiber penetration. Now, Esmaeel Al Hammadi, Etisalat's SVP of Network Development, explains the operator's journey to virtualization, beginning with the network core, as well as the ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


The Citrix NetScaler mobile gateway is an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, NetScaler can be deployed on any hypervisor, on a ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
Russia's MTS: There Is No 5G Business Case
Iain Morris, News Editor, 3/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.