Light Reading

The Set-Top Mess

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable Opinion
Jeff Baumgartner
1/29/2010
50%
50%

Guess what? The parties that have skin in the future of the set-top game are still light-years apart when it comes to agreeing on... well, just about anything.

At least that's the conclusion I've come to after sifting through a batch of mind-numbing reply comments submitted this week in response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's inquiry on how it can help bring more innovation to the video device market and spur broadband adoption. The FCC is diving into this as part of the National Broadband Plan it's expected to present to Congress on March 17. (See Whither the CableCARD? and FCC Delays National Broadband Plan.)

This week's flurry of responses arrived weeks after the initial boatload of comments, which were all over the map.

Groups like Public Knowledge and Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , proposed do-it-all gateway platforms. The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) , meanwhile, advocated for a thinner, "set-back" box approach for cable, telcos, and satellite-TV players alike. DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) doesn't want anything to do with any of those proposals. And TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) said cable's licensing schemes and other requirements for bringing third-party set-tops to the fold suck ostrich eggs.

That's the simplistic version, but there are more details than you might care to see in the following: The Set-Top Files (Part I) , The Set-Top Files (Part II) , TiVo Gives Cable Both Barrels , DirecTV Disses Cable's 'All-MVPD' Plans, and Cable's Got Ideas for a Universal Retail Box .)

In the most recent response phase, there were (thankfully) fewer documents filed, but the arguments presented were as familiar as yesterday's news. Here's a snapshot of some of them.

NCTA: Gateway proposals are full of flaws
Cable's main pressure group said a gateway device is one of many possible approaches the FCC should explore in a more formal Notice of Inquiry (NOI), but argued that the proposals for a "one-size-fits all" super-gateway aren't good enough for an immediate rulemaking because they're peppered with "flaws and inadequacies."

What is it about those proposals that stinks up the joint? According to the NCTA, they omit protocols for the Emergency Alert System, closed captioning, parental controls, and Quality of Service (QoS). And they don't get into the tricky issue of content and network security.

"Get it wrong, and the flow of programming available to all cable consumers is put at risk," the NCTA warns.

It also said the notion of an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) -standardized gateway would "entail crippling delays," claiming that the steps of developing and consummating those standards would take years and would require multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to toss everything out and "reinvent" their services.

DirecTV: Thin isn't in
DirecTV again took aim at cable's "all-MVPD" set-back idea, claiming a "thin gateway approach" could hinder the company from introducing new service enhancements and could boost subscriber costs.

Motorola: Nothing to see here
Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) took umbrage at the mere notion that the set-top market suffers from a lack of innovation.

Moto completed that Jedi mind trick by suggesting that the addition of features like DVRs, Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF), Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , and the "Motorola Mover" (a set-top accessory that allows consumers to send recorded subscription video to mobile devices) are some prime examples of box innovation.

Still, Moto, which just announced that it has shipped more than 100 million set-tops, did allow that IP represents the future of video distribution.

"We strongly support FCC policies that encourage deployment of IP networks and re-evaluate costly regulations, like the CableCARD, that potentially stand in the way of such pro-consumer innovation."

Considering the wide range of opinions, it's hard not to agree with the NCTA's opinion that the FCC, if it truly insists on pursuing some sort of set-top-related rulemaking, should start with a formal NOI rather than trying to attach it to the already delayed National Broadband Plan like a freakishly unnecessary appendage.

There's just too much ground to cover, and the various sides are too far apart to try to shoehorn a solution that might just end up making the "problem" much worse.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Cooper10
50%
50%
Cooper10,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:43:40 PM
re: The Set-Top Mess


both are worthy objectives, and both stand about the same chance of success.


Nice summary of the various dogs in this fight.

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Ericsson's Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000, featuring Intel's Rack Scale Architecture, caused a stir when it was announced at MWC 2015. For more on this revolutionary product, join me on Thursday, April 30 at 12:00 p.m. EST for a Super Webinar event, A New Hardware Paradigm for the Telco Data Center.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu + Nokia: The New Uber-Vendor

4|15|15   |   2:42   |   (4) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown discusses the technological and competitive opportunities and challenges if a merger between Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia comes to pass.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Data Center Power Play

4|15|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


Huawei has developed industry-leading energy efficiency capabilities for its indoor and outdoor data center solutions, explains Dr. Fang Liangzhou, vice president of Huawei's Network Energy product Line.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Routers, Switches Get the Green Mark

4|15|15   |   2:02   |   (0) comments


TUV Rheinland's Frank Dudley explains how Huawei's routers and switches have been successfully tested by energy efficiency experts and have gained Green Mark Certification.
LRTV Documentaries
A Finn, a Frenchman & a Guy From New Jersey Walk Into a Merger...

4|15|15   |   3:17   |   (0) comments


Stop us if you've heard this one before... Light Reading CEO Founder & CEO Steve Saunders weighs in on the technical and cultural implications of a Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent merger.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accounting for Better Solutions

4|10|15   |   02:31   |   (1) comment


Murad Yousuf, CTO at Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Finance (Dept. of Zakat & Income Tax), talks about the benefits of deploying router technology from Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
What's in Store for Huawei & DataCore?

4|10|15   |   05:44   |   (0) comments


At the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, George Teixeira, CEO of software-defined storage (SDS) specialist DataCore Software, explains why he has just signed a partnership agreement with Huawei Technologies.
Upcoming Live Events
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
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
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
In its latest survey covering network operators' plans and strategies for ICT transformation, Heavy Reading asked telecom operators worldwide to identify the most important goals and objectives for their ICT transformation initiatives. Heavy Reading also asked operators about the importance of a "digital first" strategy, which enables customers to complete an interaction across different digital channels, such as web and mobile self-service and social media.
Hot Topics
Comcast Formally Ends Its Bid for TWC
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/24/2015
What if the Comcast Merger Fails?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/20/2015
Google's WiFi-First Mobile Service 'Fi' Is Here
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/22/2015
Adtran Is Developing White Box GPON Tech
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/24/2015
Comcast Merger May Hinge on Hulu
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 4/22/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Data Center Interconnect, or DCI, is one of the hottest sectors in telecom currently. Since coming back to Light Reading last year, prodigal-son style, I've ...
Cats with Phones
Learning Curve Click Here
Pierre could never remember how to use Excel.
Latest Comment