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
Anshul Sadana answers questions from Steve Saunders, Light Reading's founder and CEO, about Arista's CloudVision, a global cloud network controller for workload orchestration and workflow automation delivering a turnkey solution for cloud networking.
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
LRTV Custom TV
Network Visibility & the New IP

7|30|15   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


Mukund Srigopal provides an explanation of what network visibility is and how it is essential as service providers transition to the New IP. In addition, the importance of the network packet broker is discussed.
Between the CEOs
Video Exclusive With Basil Alwan, Alcatel-Lucent

7|24|15   |   26:44   |   (5) comments


Basil Alwan, President of IP Routing & Transport at Alcatel-Lucent, discusses virtualization, cultural challenges, the capex crunch and more with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
VDF: Enable the Financial With Mobile Money

7|20|15   |   06:53   |   (0) comments


Ian Ravenscroft discusses how operators can expand to occupy the entire digital services value chain through service innovation.
LRTV Custom TV
Telefónica on OSS Transformation

7|20|15   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Jose Gonzales discusses the details of Telefónica's operation transformation program.
LRTV Custom TV
Judi Achmadi on Huawei's Cloud Storage Solution

7|20|15   |   03:33   |   (0) comments


Judi discusses the key business goals of TelekomSigma's public cloud service and how Huawei's solution helps them address challenges.
LRTV Custom TV
KPN Enlightening Digital Business & IT Transformation

7|20|15   |   06:19   |   (0) comments


Rob de Beer discusses the changes that operators need to make with service innovation now coming from the Internet world.
LRTV Custom TV
Stratus Telco-Grade Cloud Solutions & NFV

7|20|15   |   07:34   |   (0) comments


Ali Kafel from Stratus Technologies addresses high-availability concerns within the telco industry with a solution that enables telcos to provide high-availability and stateful fault-tolerance using a software-based approach.
LRTV Documentaries
The Six Million Dollar Business Man

7|20|15   |   01:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Saunders, publisher. A man barely alive after an acquisition malfunction imploded the company he founded. Gentlemen, we can rebuild Light Reading. Better, faster, stronger.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Anukool Lakhina, Guavus

7|20|15   |   38:51   |   (1) comment


Guavus CEO Anukool Lakhina talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the role of operational analytics in the communications services and networking sectors, particularly in relation to IoT.
LRTV Custom TV
IBM's Flash Storage With Intel QuickAssist

7|20|15   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Intel's Bev Crair and IBM's Eric Herzog discuss how IBM's V9000 Flash Storage System has helped customers around the world. Featuring real-time compression powered by Intel QuickAssist Technology, the V9000 is a next-gen flash storage solution.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
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
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
To keep up with consumers' increasing digital lifestyles, an IT system and operating model overhaul is required using a modern BSS, IES and analytics.
Hot Topics
Eurobites: Nokia Seals HERE Sale
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 8/3/2015
Verizon Small Cells Ready to Rock in Chicago
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 7/31/2015
Cable Feuds With Senate Dems Over STBs
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 7/31/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
I was pleasantly surprised when Ericsson recently agreed to let me interview its CEO, Hans Vestberg. Traditionally, mega-companies like Ericsson (or Cisco) have kept ...
Basil Alwan, President of IP Routing & Transport at Alcatel-Lucent, discusses virtualization, cultural challenges, the capex crunch and more with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders.
Cats with Phones
Comes With Free Phone Stand Click Here
Who says cats don't have any skills?