[mythtv-users] Another step towards what I'd predicted

Mark Steckel mjs at qwsa.com
Tue Jan 8 02:22:29 UTC 2008

At 04:10 PM 1/5/2008, you wrote:
>This week i E-mailed the FCC and complained about the fact that allot of
>people are buying new TV's with the digital and Qam tuners and the cable
>operators are blocking us from using our tuners.. My Argument  is we
>change over to digital tv's and still have to rent a stb and remote..I
>have 3 tv's  so it costs $24.00  a month to do what my tv's already
>do..They E-mailed me 2 days later and asked for my home phone number so
>they could speak to me about it...Maybe if  more people would e-mail
>them and tell them their cable co.won't allow them to use their TV's
>with out an stb... Can't hurt.... Sorry to jump on your post,but i
>wanted to maybe prompt a few to do as i did....  The email address is
>MBINFO at fcc.gov

The following implicitly explains cable companies' desire for stb, 
namely 2-way communication to support interactive services, 
pay-per-view and what not.



Comcast: Cable to Standardize Technology
Jan 7, 6:02 AM (ET)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Facing pressure from regulators, the cable TV 
industry plans to make good on a promise to standardize its 
technology and open the door to televisions and other gadgets that 
don't need cable boxes to receive video-on-demand programs and other 
interactive services.

An industry initiative, to be renamed "tru2way" after a decade in the 
works, is expected to allow electronics manufacturers to make TVs and 
other gear that will work regardless of cable provider. By making 
devices compatible, the standard also could encourage the development 
of new services and features that rely on two-way communication over 
the cable network.

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) (CMCSA), the nation's largest cable provider, 
will roll out the platform in all its markets by the end of 2008, 
Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in an interview with The 
Associated Press ahead of a speech Tuesday at the International 
Consumer Electronics Show.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) is even closer to completion, Comcast 
executives said. A spokesman for No. 3 provider Cox Communications 
Inc. said the company will have "widespread deployment" this year.

"Our business model has changed completely, from a closed, 
proprietary model to an open architecture that will work across cable 
companies - not just across Comcast," Roberts said. "That was a 
Herculean job to accomplish."

Craig Moffett, senior analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said the industry 
is sending a hands-off signal to the Federal Communications 
Commission. Last summer, FCC officials said they would soon take on 
the issue of two-way compatibility between consumer electronics and 
cable systems.

"They don't have a lot of friends at the FCC right now. The cable 
industry has every reason to be nervous," Moffett said. "I suspect a 
lot of this is trying to beat the FCC to the punch."

CableLabs, the cable industry's research and development arm, which 
Roberts leads, was to announce Monday that its OpenCable platform, 
first developed in 1997, will now be branded as "tru2way."

Cable providers and device manufacturers have long disagreed over the 
technical specifications for two-way communication among their 
devices. There are TVs and set-top boxes in the market that can 
receive digital programming, but they can't talk back to the network, 
which would allow advanced interactive services. That leaves 
consumers with having to rent a box from the cable company.

And even with the new standards some discord remains.

Though the cable industry has inked separate deals with electronics 
companies, including Panasonic, Samsung and LG, consumer electronics 
giant Sony isn't on board.

The FCC - where Chairman Kevin Martin supports a more open and 
competitive environment - is also considering a different standard 
put forward by a group of consumer electronics companies.

CableLabs said it has inked licensing agreements with Intel Corp. 
(INTC) and Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) to develop chips to run the 
software. And Microsoft Corp. is expected to integrate the standard 
into future versions of its Windows operating system for personal computers.

Comcast foresees "tru2way" branding on TVs, set-top boxes, PCs and 
other devices to signal their compatibility with cable systems.

On Monday, Panasonic and Comcast plan to unveil a slew of products 
that will be compatible with "tru2way," including a plasma 
high-definition television, high-definition digital video recorders 
and a portable DVR.

"You'll see a number of new 'tru2way' devices, and this is just the 
beginning," Roberts said. "This is Day One."

The Panasonic Viera Plasma HDTV with "tru2way" will go on sale this 
year. Panasonic's portable DVD player and recorder, called "AnyPlay," 
lifts off a docking station and allows consumers to watch the 
programs they've recorded anywhere they like, on its 8.5-inch LCD 
screen. It is to go on sale in early 2009.

Other products are expected to reach retail stores as early as the 
end of 2008. The timeframe gives cable leverage over the competing 
standard proposed by consumer electronics makers, whose devices might 
not make it to retail until 2009 at the earliest.

Moffett said cable operators are telling the FCC that the industry 
can work with consumer electronics makers on two-way cable-compatible products.

"That could tip the scales in their favor," Moffett said.

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