Cable's Seven-Fold Path

4:20 PM -- The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has offered the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seven "consumer principles" that its MSO members are committed to as the Commission gets ready to release its National Broadband Plan on March 16.

As part of that plan, the Commission has out a request on how it can help drive "innovation" in the video device market and help spur broadband adoption, so this is apparently why the NCTA is finding it necessary to reset its position on the topic now. (See Whither the CableCARD?)

The scuttlebutt is that the FCC is leaning toward recommending, but perhaps not mandating, a one-size-fits-all "gateway" approach that would work across industries.

The NCTA, which has previously suggested the FCC open a more formal notice of inquiry on this topic, has already argued that such an approach is full of "flaws and inadequacies" and would "entail crippling delays." It's also made suggestions on what it thinks would help push the needle at retail, recommending, for example, "set-back" boxes that could be applied to not just cable, but to satellite and telco TV operators. (See The Set-Top Mess and Cable's Got Ideas for a Universal Retail Box .)

With that as the backdrop, the NCTA fired off a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in an apparent attempt to show that the industry remains committed to developing a competitive retail market for digital set-tops and devices, and is open to supporting retail boxes that support cable- and Internet-delivered video services as well as guides and interfaces from outside parties.

Here's the unabridged list of those commitments:

  • Consumers should have the option to purchase video devices at retail that can access their multichannel provider’s video services without a set-top box supplied by that provider.
  • Consumers should also have the option to purchase video devices at retail that can access any multichannel provider’s video services through an interface solution offered by that provider.
  • Consumers should have the option to access video content from the Internet through their multichannel provider’s video devices and retail video devices.
  • Consumers should have the option to purchase video devices at retail that can search for video content across multiple content sources, including content from their multichannel provider, the Internet, or other sources.
  • Consumers should have the option to easily and securely move video content between and among devices in their homes.
  • Consumers should be assured the benefits of continuous innovation and variety in video products, devices and services provided by multichannel providers and at retail.
  • To maximize consumer benefits and to ensure competitive neutrality in a highly dynamic marketplace, these principles should be embraced by all video providers, implemented flexibly to accommodate different network architectures and diverse equipment options, and, to the maximum extent possible, serve as the basis for private sector solutions, not government technology mandates.

  • — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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