[mythtv-users] FCC proposal

Neil Cooper neilcoo at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Feb 9 22:53:47 UTC 2012

--- On Thu, 2/9/12, Steven Adeff <adeffs.mythtv at gmail.com> wrote:

> From: Steven Adeff <adeffs.mythtv at gmail.com>
> Subject: [mythtv-users] FCC proposal
> To: "MythTV Users" <mythtv-users at mythtv.org>
> Date: Thursday, February 9, 2012, 12:07 PM
> http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/02/let-1000-boxees-bloom-fighting-big-cables-encryption-initiative.ars?src=fbk
> link to the FCC pdf:
> http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021738292
> Let 1,000 Boxees bloom: fighting Big Cable's encryption
> initiative
> It is war between the National Cable and Telecommunications
> Association and Boxee over a Federal Communications
> Commission
> proposal that would allow cable companies to encrypt or
> scramble their
> "basic tier" streams on all-digital systems. Time Warner
> Cable and
> Comcast say go for it. But Boxee is calling for a time-out
> on the
> idea.
> Up until now, basic tier consumers have not needed
> de-scrambling
> set-top boxes to connect to basic tier (which usually just
> offer the
> over-the-air channels), the company's latest blog post
> warns. Big
> cable's real motivation in pushing this rule "is to prevent
> you from
> being able to connect the cable from the wall directly to
> your TV or
> Boxee Box. You will need to rent a set-top box from your
> cable
> provider, pay an extra $5-15 per month and it will no longer
> work with
> your Boxee Box or similar devices."
> Boxee markets a gadget that allows consumers to watch both
> cable and
> Internet TV via that interface, and a hefty percentage of
> its
> customers depend on that nonencrypted stream to make the
> system work.
> In fact, Boxee has told the FCC that 40 percent of its
> device buyers
> connect to cable via a "clear QAM" [unencrypted quadrature
> amplitude
> modulation] signal.
> "We estimate millions of consumers will see their TVs go
> dark," Boxee warns.
> TP on board
> Baloney, replies the NCTA, disputing Boxee's numbers and
> faulting the
> company for not integrating CableCARD access in its
> machines. "Boxee
> makes the astounding claim that basic tier encryption will
> have no
> consumer benefits, ignoring the substantial record evidence
> to the
> contrary—including the fact that encryption will free
> cable customers
> from having to wait at home for a service visit when
> connecting or
> disconnecting service."
> The filing notes that straight-to-the-wall connections
> usually involve
> a technician visit to make sure the connection is secure.
> "Once the
> basic tier is encrypted, the opportunity for truckless
> installation
> and/or disconnection becomes available to all customers, not
> just
> basic tier customers."
> To which Boxee has choice words: "Considering this ruling
> would also
> mean millions more set top boxes and cable cards are
> manufactured,
> distributed, and attached to electric outlets... their
> argument
> doesn't hold water. It's akin to a cable executive taking a
> private
> jet to an FCC meeting, but insisting on having recycled
> toilet paper
> on-board to help save the environment."
> In the clear
> Here's some background on how this little love fest began.
> In 1992,
> concerned about compatibility issues between various kinds
> of
> television sets and cable signals, Congress gave the FCC
> authority to
> require that cable companies offer basic tier on an
> unencrypted basis.
> But last October the Commission launched a proceeding
> suggesting that
> this provision be put to rest.
> About 77 percent of cable subscribers have at least one
> digital cable
> set-top box or retail CableCARD device in their home, the
> agency
> noted. Various cable providers have received waivers from
> basic tier
> encryption over the years, most prominently Cablevision in
> New York
> City, and this has saved money via the decline in home
> visits.
> The evidence thus shows, the FCC tentatively concluded,
> that:
>     where cable operators undertake appropriate
> consumer protection
> measures, the costs of retaining this rule (e.g., the need
> to schedule
> service appointments whenever a consumer subscribes to or
> cancels
> cable service as well as the expense and effect of cable
> operators'
> trucks on traffic and the environment) outweigh the benefits
> of
> retaining it (e.g., ensuring the continued utility of
> devices with
> clear-QAM tuners).
> Concurrent action
> The Boxee bottom line on this issue goes as so—total
> encryption of
> basic tier cable would deny consumers "innovative
> alternatives to
> traditional pay TV that rely on QAM compatibility, while
> increasing
> STB rental charges, energy costs, and dependency on MVPDs
> [multi-video
> program distributors]."
> So the FCC shouldn't go the route "without taking concurrent
> action to
> increase compatibility of consumer devices with MVPD
> programming and
> ensure alternative means of access by non-MVPD devices to
> broadcast
> channel and public access programming."
> The "concurrent action" that various advocacy groups want is
> AllVid,
> the FCC's proposal for a mandated industry-wide gadget that
> you could
> plug into your broadband router and connect to your cable TV
> provider,
> then watch online video and pay channels through a variety
> of
> AllVid-friendly devices. In a sense, Boxee is just that.
> What reform
> groups like Public Knowledge and the Media Access Project
> want the FCC
> to do is create an environment in which 1,000 Boxees could
> bloom.
> They're disappointed that after almost two years, the agency
> hasn't
> acted on the proposal.
> Don't thwart the future
> As for the de-encryption idea, both groups mostly support
> it, with
> some modifications. The FCC proposes that cable operators
> going this
> route (and almost all of them will) offer existing
> subscribers who
> have a basic-service non-set-top-box powered television the
> gear
> needed to descramble basic tier on one set without charge
> for a year.
> Subscribers who receive Medicaid would get the equipment
> needed to
> descramble basic tier on two sets without charge for five
> years from
> the date of encryption.
> Both Public Knowledge and Media Access suggest the
> Lifeline/Linkup
> discount phone service program be added to the eligibility
> list. They
> also want the FCC's Final Order to make sure that consumers
> are given
> advance notice when their de-encryption period ends.
> As for Boxee's protest, in a blog post, PK's John Bergmayer
> says he
> sympathizes with the company. "The Boxee Box is an early
> vision of the
> kind of next-generation video device that's needed to push
> the TV
> industry forward," he notes. "It's come from a private
> company, not
> one that has cut special deals with cable systems in every
> town," and
> provides features that set-top boxes don't offer.
> "It would be perverse if the FCC actively thwarted this and
> similar
> devices," Bergmayer's commentary concludes.
> -- 
> Steve
> http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/User:Steveadeff
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Seriously, this would be all it would take for me to end my cable TV subscription immediately.

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