Tweaking the Tuning Adapter

1:20 PM -- TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) still prefers its "IP backchannel" proposal to help its CableCARD-capable DVRs access switched digital video (SDV) programming, but evidence is emerging that TiVo's also eyeing other proposals that look to enhance the capabilities of tuning adapters, which are being used today to provide TiVo boxes access to switched cable TV programming.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), which vehemently opposes a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate that would force cable to adopt TiVo's IP backchannel idea, noted in an ex parte filing that a couple of tuning adapter proposals are already underway. (See NCTA Prices TiVo's SDV Idea at $22M and TWC Pokes More Holes in TiVo's SDV Proposal .)

TiVo, it appears, now wants tuning adapters to include an IP output (in addition to the existing USB port) to facilitate home networking. TWC doesn't like that idea, either, noting that the proposed enhancement would require more memory and the installation of a new IP software stack and, more generally, "likely would entail costs that exceed its benefits."

TWC, however, did acknowledge it's working with TiVo to see if Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) could increase the number of tuners in its tuning adapters to four, up from the current two.

TiVo, the MSO noted, has already submitted an Engineering Change Request to CableLabs , which has since been forwarded to Cisco for implementation.

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), by the way, already has a four-tuner tuning adapter on the market.

TWC, in an apparent effort to keep the FCC focused on tuning adapters rather than TiVo's IP backchannel proposal, also argued that tuning adapters with four tuners actually give TiVo a competitive advantage over MSO-leased DVRs that sport only two tuners. The four-tuner set-up would allow TiVo boxes to record up to four linear, non-switched streams simultaneously.

The MSO also acknowledged that TiVo has deals in place with MSOs to use the IP backchannel approach to deliver cable video-on-demand, but noted that those deals "do not appear to encompass switched programming, for which latency is a much greater concern than for VoD." (See Suddenlink Boxes Up TiVo Deal and Cox, TiVo Strike a DVR Deal.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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