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Government Television Hardware

Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan (arstechnica.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that would force pay-TV companies to give third parties access to TV content, letting hardware makers build better set-top boxes. Customers would be able to watch all the TV channels they're already paying cable companies for, but on a device that they don't have to rent from them. The rules could also bring TV to tablets and other devices without need for a rented set-top box. The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.

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Cable Lobby Steams Up Over FCC Set-Top Box Competition Plan

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  • Vampires (Score:3, Funny)

    by ChrisMaple ( 607946 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:00PM (#51400023)
    Maybe some manufacturer will make a box that doesn't draw 20 watts when it's turned off.
    • Re:Vampires (Score:5, Informative)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @09:39PM (#51400419)

      lol, that's you first mistake -- thinking there's an actual "off" mode.
      On DVRs at least, there literally is not an Off state with the box plugged in. On some models the difference between On and Standby is only 1W because the the only difference is in on state the box is outputting a video signal and in the other it's not.

      • With as much as I hate centurylink, their PrismTV is actually pretty decent in this regard. It comes free with fiber internet at my apartment, so I don't watch it very much, but it's entirely IP based (I have it running through my own Asus router running Tomato firmware) the channel changing is virtually instant (no 2-3 second wait time of cable) and when it's off it barely consumes any power at all. The HDD in the main unit only spins up occasionally when it's recording something.

        The downside is that live

      • I checked my Power draw when the Pretty blue LED is on ( 40W ) vs off, and when off ( still 40 W ). Multiply that by 4 boxes and we have some substantial drain. WHY oh WHY would a cable company need to have the service staying up while I am not watching? Clearly, this is to suit their purpose. When I turn it OFF, it should go OFF. Always wondered if the CC was using my boxes as Wireless access points, without my knowledge. They do clain to have a MILLION access points... VERY glad to hear of competitio
        • by jonwil ( 467024 )

          If its a DVR it needs to be on at all times so it can actually record the things you told it to record.

          Also it needs to be powered up so it can update when the cable company has something to push to it (e.g. new encryption stuff)

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            If its a DVR it needs to be on at all times so it can actually record the things you told it to record.

            Also it needs to be powered up so it can update when the cable company has something to push to it (e.g. new encryption stuff)

            The DVR I owned a decade ago didn't need to stay powered on 24x7, it just used a timer to turn itself on whenever it needed to record.

            Likewise, it can schedule itself to check in twice a day to get "encryption stuff" or whatever else it needs. Or it could use a modern low power CPU to do housekeeping like that that doesn't need the entire device to be turned on.

            40W a day 24x7 is over 300KWh/year of wasted power - that's more electricity than my household uses in a month. The simple fact is that the cable co

        • WHY oh WHY would a cable company need to have the service staying up while I am not watching?

          Also to keep the program guide updated.

          Always wondered if the CC was using my boxes as Wireless access points, without my knowledge.

          Very simple to check for yourself. Do any of your portable WiFi devices show a very strong signal on an unknown SSID when held near your cable box? But the set top box isn't the access point, it will be a cable modem supplied by the cable company.

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            WHY oh WHY would a cable company need to have the service staying up while I am not watching?

            Also to keep the program guide updated.

            With over a gigabit/sec of downstream bandwidth available, they *could* just update the program guide every time you turn on the cable box by allocating a little more bandwidth to the program guide, no need to capture it continuously -- they could send out the next 2 hours worth of programming every few seconds to allow you to see what's on right now as soon as you turn on the cablebox, then send out the full program guide less frequently.

        • When I turn it OFF, it should go OFF. Always wondered if the CC was using my boxes as Wireless access points, without my knowledge.

          Comcast keep writing to me, telling me that I need to get a new cable modem. I don't. It's just that they want to use my cable modem as an access point. Perhaps if I paid for greater speeds, I might need a new modem, but if that day arises, I will buy my own.

    • Nonsense. They'd have to hire engineers to do that since they laid off the last one two decades ago.

    • I think this lobby is late to the party, I see my kids using their phones to watch TV shows.
  • by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:01PM (#51400029) Homepage Journal

    Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed their displeasure with a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market, which could help consumers watch TV on different devices and thus avoid paying cable box rental fees.

    Cable TV industry lobby groups expressed some of the highest praise they can give for a Federal Communications Commission plan to bring competition to the set-top box market

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:02PM (#51400033)

    But the cablecos just made the Cablecards a pita to install (some requiring a technician to come out to your house to install a simple card), and making the slot so hard to implement that only a few companies like Tivo even tried to support them, then adding in shit like SJV to make them useless for certain channels, then charging RENTAL FEES for the cards. The rental fee was the ballsiest move of them all. And they got away with it too, of course, because lobbyists and campaign brib....contributions.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Typo, meant SDV not SJV.

      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        While it sucks that they didn't support SDV in some cable cards (I'm assuming, CableCard is an American thing that we never had in Canada), SDV is really quite valuable from a technical standpoint. Cable systems tend to be really crunched for spectrum, and SDV lets them free up huge swaths of spectrum for DOCSIS (cable modem) use.

        Eventually, it seems like the trend is moving to IPTV over DOCSIS 3.1, which should solve the capacity issues by letting them use the entire spectrum for data, ultimately getting t

    • This year for the holidays I bought myself an HDHomeRun Prime by SiliconDust. Comcast gave me an M-card with no questions, and the tech support number in the documents (a call center that does only Cablecard activations) handled the activation fine. It would have been somewhat easier if there were a decent online description of exactly what numbers the call center needed. Three independent tuners, DLNA compliant, and delivers the HD streams over our household LAN (some wired, some wireless). Works fine
      • Wait until your cable co flags everything as copy once. Cables cards issue is it gave them more rights than the VCR ruling of the 80's. If I paid to watch it once I should be able to record it and watch it as much as I want on whatever gear I want.

    • "But the cablecos just made the Cablecards a pita to install..."

      Exactly. And your cable company may simply pretend not to know what you're talking about when you try to order a cable card. And the satellite companies don't do cable cards although I've been told they are supposed to.

      If CableCompanies etc drag their heels with the cards, what are the chances that their software interface is going to be reliable and comprehensible? Is it going to work with more than one OS.? Is it going to be in a constant

    • Switched Digital TV.. so the tuner leaves the house and goes upstream to the distribution layer.. and remove any CHANCE of unintended usage!
    • they got away with it because we've been electing candidates that are further and further on the right wing ever since Clinton (Bill) moved the Dems that way so he could take the presidency. If you're gonna keep electing "pro-business" folks you shouldn't be surprised when they do things that are good for business. Consumer protections and competition aren't good for business. We like to think they are because we like to ignore just how few companies supply the goods and services we depend on. But even 'sma
    • But the cablecos just made the Cablecards a pita to install (some requiring a technician to come out to your house to install a simple card)

      When I got a cablecard, it took a technician to get it working. But really, the reason is either deliberate or accidental stupidity within Comcast. I had got the cable card set up so that some channels were working, but not others. The technician didn't do anything special. He get here, replaced some working cables and then got on the phone to someone who set up the c

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      That's the reason why I don't subscribe to any cable, satellite or OTA at all. There are a few free channels to watch whenever I'm in the mood - about once every 5 months.

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:02PM (#51400037)

    It's funny how most cable companies allow their subscribers to purchase their own cable modems and routers, but now those same companies balk at the idea of their subscribers buying their own set-top box.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      I can buy a modem from At&t and when that one burns out I will have to buy or rent another one just like it because while att has no rule that I can't use another companies modem they use a proprietary authentication method for their adsl2+

      So I am stuck with a single choice for a modem the NVG510. No other options are available that I am aware of other than switching isp's

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        I can buy a modem from At&t and when that one burns out I will have to buy or rent another one just like it because while att has no rule that I can't use another companies modem they use a proprietary authentication method for their adsl2+

        So I am stuck with a single choice for a modem the NVG510. No other options are available that I am aware of other than switching isp's

        This is amazingly AT&T. What do they think, it's 1981 and they're Ma Bell again (proprietary landline phones)?

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          This is amazingly AT&T. What do they think, it's 1981 and they're Ma Bell again (proprietary landline phones)?

          Look at the history of AT&T in the last 30 years. The breakup was a temporary set-back, and they realized quickly all they had to do was lay low for a few years for the anti-trust fervor to disappear (and for the people in office behind the break-up to leave). Pretty quickly they tried getting it all back. They're not as dominant as they were back in the phone heydays, but they have as much of a stranglehold over the landline market as they ever had.

        • Sort of the thing with their U-Verse which uses VSDL. However after checking just now, it appears that the AT&T supplied router (TwoWire crap) is required if you use U-Verse television. If you only use U-Verse for internet or internet+VoIP you can use a third party VSDL modem. But AT&T isn't going to provide you any help in getting it to work... I don't know if the third party modem would actually help with performance though, it's only useful I think if you need better routing/wifi capabilities

          • Interesting, thanks for the tip. The AT&T modern is so crap, I've been fantasizing lately about replacing it with something.

            • by Megane ( 129182 )
              Their newer modems are a lot better than the old stuff. NVG598 and Pace 5268AC are good modems and the latter does 802.11ac. I've heard that the NVG510 really is crap, and if you are still running anything by TwoWire with UVerse, I can't even feel your pain. See if you can get them to replace yours a new one.
          • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

            I recommend you read about the flavors of uverse; http://adslm.dohrenburg.net/uv... [dohrenburg.net]

            While it's not mentioned in the article ADSL2+ uverse plans upload speed max out at 1mbps unlike the other flavors that have 1.5mbps for the same price.

            As for modem compatibility I can't get vdsl so no idea.

      • There is hope for the NVG510. There is a way to enable telnet and bridge mode, and disable updates to the firmware that blocks that hack (you have to download firmware manually first). Yes, they patched the security vulnerability that lets you get it working, but they didn't make it work correctly at the same time.

        AT&T has been no help with it. I don't have their service, but I have done work for people who do.

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          I had one working right thanks to earlz a year ago but after that one burned out the new one has the new firmware and I've been unable to find a copy of the old firmware online anywhere. If you happen to run across it please post a link.

          Yep AT&T fixed the security vulnerability but couldn't be arsed to set the no cache flag on the redirect page.

          • One of the commenters on the earlz site posted a link to a DSLReports forum post with firmware version 9.0.6h2d30:
            http://www.dslreports.com/foru... [dslreports.com]

            It's a little over halfway down the page. You do have to create a DSLReports account if you don't have one in order to download. Just be sure to disable checks for updates or your fix will break as soon as AT&T sees the outdated firmware and updates it.

    • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:42PM (#51400173) Homepage Journal

      As soon as anybody can start making set top boxes, somebody will make one that can easily be hacked to ignore all the various restrictions on recording, if not just market one that does that. And skipping commercials. And when that happens, the various networks are going to raise their fees to the cable companies.

      Traditional television is dying, because nobody gives a shit any more. And frankly. good riddance.

    • comcast finds a way to mess that up as well. Some times when you own your own modem they mess up and still bill you for renting theirs.

    • Modems are about communication; settops are about control. The primary purpose of the cable box is to control whether you can access the content and what you can do with it. Without that control the network providers would have to pay the content providers more because there is a higher risk of their content leaking out onto the Internet where anyone can get it for free. The network providers aren't happy with leakage, either, because potential customers who can get it for free won't pay their subscription

      • The idea of a software CableCard has been around for a while, but to maintain control you have to be able to trust the software an some random hardware, or have rigid controls on which hardware is certified to run the software, and have the software validate the hardware before allowing access. It isn't easy, it doesn't really make anyone happy, it takes forever, and the market tends to move on before the issues are solved.

        This.

        I'd like to believe the FCC is trying to make things better for cable TV subscri

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      I am still waiting for cable companies to allow subscribers to buy modems that can do both phone and Internet. None of that stupid splitter to our own modem.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:08PM (#51400053)
    will probably sink this. I can't imagine any of the Republican Candidates letting this slide. Hilary might (e.g. she might get lobbied harder by the folks that want to sell set top boxes). Bernie would tell the cable industry to go *bleep* themselves but he's got a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination.

    Basically, don't bother getting too excited. This'll all be swept away when Obama leaves :(... Thanks Obama.
    • Bernie would tell the cable industry to go *bleep* themselves but he's got a snowball's chance in hell of getting the nomination.

      * According to mainstream media, who have been studiously ignoring him to help their chosen candidate (Clinton). In fact, he has a very real chance of winning the nomination.

      • He's basically this generation's Walter Mondale. A nice guy who is completely unelectable. He's on record saying he's a socialist. That won't scare off any Dems, but it doesn't have to. It will scare the $h!t out of the the right wing baby boomers and get them out in droves voting for whatever the Republicans run (Probably Jeb or Rubio). American politics aren't about convincing people to vote _for_ you, they're about convincing people to vote against the other guy.
        • Mayhaps.

          Everything I've read gives the Democrats a huge lead in EC votes from historical data. Something like 240 to high 100s or low 200s and basically said without Ohio and Florida, the Republicans are in a pretty tight spot. And if I recall correctly, Colorado was a tossup state. I imagine that any Republican will shut down their marijuana legalization so odds are they vote Democrat and that puts Republicans in a tighter spot. I think Virginia was as well.

          Now this does depend on who the Republicans run.

  • Satellite tv will be next in the cross hairs for this as they do same thing but they are kinda worse.
    • They better do IPTV as well. As comcast and others can just switch from QAM to IPTV to keep there lockin or just Move HD to IPTV. Comcast MPEG2 HD trun off is having then dump a lot of old hardware and the newer MPEG4 HD boxes can do IP based tv.

    • DirecTV offers TiVo, so they have some of the best set top boxes out there compared to generic cable companies. The satellite tv providers are even more scared of Hollywood than the bigger/richer cable companies, and Hollywood is who doesn't want to see a proliferation of unrestricted set top boxes.

  • There is no good reason for all of this proprietary technology.
  • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:19PM (#51400089)

    Do you have any idea how long it took and how much effort they expended to make sure that the Cable Card standard was never actually usable? And this new standard basically says they have to pass the data to an outside provider without being able to force the electronics retailer to have to go to cable labs which helped to make sure the process is painful and you can't win without giving in?

    My god, people might not have to spend $20 a month on a DVR they don't own!

    • To be fair here, I think ominous people behind the scenes to be concerned about are the Hollywood content providers. Content providers are the ones who insist that the cable companies enforce their rules and who have the power to bankrupt some of these supplier companies if they wanted to.

      Key things that Hollywood wants are no HD recording without DRM, ever. They'd prefer no low def recordings either but so far they've not figured out how to ban analog DVRs. They especially do not want any pixel perfect

      • To be fair here, I think ominous people behind the scenes to be concerned about are the Hollywood content providers. Content providers are the ones who insist that the cable companies enforce their rules and who have the power to bankrupt some of these supplier companies if they wanted to.

        They're the SAME GODDAMN PEOPLE! Comcast owns NBC, remember?

        • But comcast is not the only cable provider, and it does not own all content. Cable companies often end up in feuds with providers, threatening to drop entire channels if the cost is too high, and sometimes actually going through with it. Comcast may own NBC but they will not be happy at all if ABC, ESPN, Turner, and whatnot decide to discontinue working with them.

          • by DewDude ( 537374 )
            Except that Comcast is so large content providers can't not afford to come to agreements. If your channel gets taken off of 50% of homes in the US; it will be a disaster for the network. That means the advertising value just plummeted.

            One of the biggest fears from content providers over all these mergers is it would allow one or two companies to dominate and would remove any bargining power they have. Comcast doesn't want to pay for it? You're going to have to lower your fee because without Comcast, you w
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:21PM (#51400103) Journal

    The system would essentially replace CableCard with a software-based equivalent.

    I see two possible problems with this idea:
    1. Having any cable company install any proprietary software on any customer-owned computing device for any reason whatsoever.
    2. If it's software-based, it'll be cracked and pirated within a month of release.
    (Disclaimer: As if I give a rat's ass whether highway robber cable companies get pirated or not. Just sayin', though)

    • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:45PM (#51400189)

      2. If it's software-based, it'll be cracked and pirated within a month of release.

      You would think so, wouldn't you. However, Windows Media Center is software based, and yet (as far as I know) nobody has managed to crack it to enable open source software to mimic WMC and trick the cable card devices into giving full access to the Copy Once and Copy Never content.

      • I'd have to think that the reason for that is one of two things: Either it hasn't been passed around all that freely, or nobody cared enough to bother doing it.
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        I think there's a reason why the Media Center isn't provided by Microsoft anymore.

  • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:42PM (#51400171)

    Reading through the FCC's summary, I can't tell whether this is a good or a bad thing. In principle it sounds good, but certainly there's going to be some sort of certifications involved somewhere, and I doubt open source stuff like mythtv is going to be able to pass the requirements to get certified. Cable card may be less than ideal in implementation as far as open source is concerned, but at least there, if you've got a cooperating cable provider, you can access much of that content in it's digital form, which is better than the previous options of analog capture.

    So the question we need to ask is whether, from an open source perspective, this is actually going to improve things for us (I'm definitely skeptical on that), keep it about the same, or make it worse.

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

      In principle it sounds good, but certainly there's going to be some sort of certifications involved somewhere, and I doubt open source stuff like mythtv is going to be able to pass the requirements to get certified

      Unless there's some sort of sea change in the country, it's highly unlikely that open source technologies will ever be allowed access to encrypted TV broadcasts. Only the programs and devices that can pass through an authorization process will be given access.

    • There's an easy way to figure out the answer.

      1) Are the cable companies for or against this?
      2) Adopt the opposite position.
    • by klui ( 457783 )

      If the cable companies don't like it, it must be a good thing for the consumers.

    • by rayd75 ( 258138 )

      Cable card may be less than ideal in implementation as far as open source is concerned, but at least there, if you've got a cooperating cable provider, you can access much of that content in it's digital form, which is better than the previous options of analog capture.

      So the question we need to ask is whether, from an open source perspective, this is actually going to improve things for us (I'm definitely skeptical on that), keep it about the same, or make it worse.

      Didn't the cable companies finally kill CableCARD a year or two ago? Obviously, most will still give you one, but isn't the mandate dead? If so, it's only a matter of time before the remaining cooperation winds down.

      Regardless, I think a robust market for consumer-owned set-top boxes is better for the DVR community than CableCARD ever was. Let's face it, no such mandate is going to be open source-friendly, so why not have a variety of commercial products that actually have to compete with one anoth

      • by DewDude ( 537374 )
        Yes, cable card mandate ended last year; Congress struck it down. Most cable companies immediately stopped offering or even supporting cablecard. Friend of mine on Comcast said they gave him no warning and just shut it off; telling him he'd have to get a box from them.

        Of course, most of the time the cable companies broke the system so horribly. Comcast here did not bring out any new hardware from 2007 till recently; that was because they were not allowed to ingrate the security in with the box and had to u
  • Cable wants to have a forced rent gateway for each home. Even if you are just an internet sub. Hell if you are an Comcast business sub with static ip's YOU MUST rent there hardware.

    Comcast makes it very hard to get a working cable card and then they change like an $7-$8 outlet fee + card rent.

    • Hell if you are an Comcast business sub with static ip's YOU MUST rent there hardware.

      The modem rental is part of the price, there isn't an extra charge for it on the business side. Now if you want to argue the static IP costs are extravagant I would agree but the equipment rental is not a big deal IMO.

    • I have a Comcast cable card. They charge $0.00 for it and pay me $2.50 per month to use it.
    • by DewDude ( 537374 )
      I've got FiOS.

      Verizon will gladly rent you a router for $9.95/month (or something); or they will allow you to buy one of theirs. Don't want one of theirs? Then you're welcome to buy any off-the-shelf router for your internet. If you signed up years ago; Verizon outright gave you the router.

      AFAIK, it's the same with the biz class as home class.

      I think the larger point you should be yelling about isn't the fact you have to pay for Comcast's hardware; but like that Comcast is your only option for service
  • IPTV... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @08:52PM (#51400215) Homepage Journal

    If they uses the IPTV approach, then they could just leverage devices people already have, such as the Apple TV, an Android TV based device or maybe a tablet.

    Maybe this bitter medicine may actually help cable companies wake up and improve their service and the way people watch the content? There are people who still like the programmed content stream, but not necessarily the limitations on which device they can watch it on.

    One company they should be copying: http://www.free.fr/adsl/freebo... [www.free.fr] (just use Google translate). It may be solution limited to France, but I am envious every time I read their offering.

    • I kind of think it's odd that they are even having a conversation about this. There is no future for cable television or set top boxes. TV over the internet is the future. There's no need to stream hundreds of channels to every house and then filter them with a set top box. Netflix and other streaming providers are proof that you can deliver TV content and the only thing the customer needs is a web browser.

      • It may be true for many people, but there are still people who just want to switch on a stream and just follow what's happening. They like someone else to suggest what to watch, like party people letting the DJ run with it.

        What turned me away from cable was more the constant breaks between the commercials, uh, I mean the shear amount of commercials during the show and that once you have eliminated the announcing what's coming up and resuming what's happened, you end up with what feels like only 20 minutes o

  • Why would I want to plug in a whatever box and watch a middle of whatever program it's showing at the time, interrupted by ads every 15 minutes? When technology is there to select exactly what I want to see and when. Even for live news/sports I may want to pause or rewind to see what I missed. Just give me well working apps and ability to subscribe to the ones that appeal to me.

  • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed new rules...

    Former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that is making the cable companies whine and cry.

    They must be wondering what their money got them. I guess Tom plans to retire after this. He is 69 years old, after all. Between this and net neutrality, he's doing a fine job warming his toes with all the bridges he's burning.

    • Former cable and wireless industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler proposed new rules that is making the cable companies whine and cry.

      They must be wondering what their money got them. I guess Tom plans to retire after this. He is 69 years old, after all. Between this and net neutrality, he's doing a fine job warming his toes with all the bridges he's burning.

      T-Mobile is actively selectively rate limiting certain types of traffic. Comcast's IPTV stream service is exempt from bandwidth CAPs even though it is delivered over the top of subscribers Internet connection.

      Thus far all Wheeler has done was bring ISPs under Title II and sit on the sidelines while ISPs drive trucks thru "Net Neutrality" ... more red tape for small ISPs and real possibility of USF fees for Internet service appearing on already astronomical bills.

      What I'm expecting is Cable companies to use

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @09:13PM (#51400313)

    I believe I speak for everyone not in the Cable TV Industry.

    Dear Cable TV Industry: fuck you. Up the ass. With a rusty spike.

  • by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @09:22PM (#51400367) Homepage
    Had analog cable, fed a few tv sets. Cable goes digital. Clear QAM - only premium channels are scrambled. The golden era. One day, all channels become scrambled, but you get a free box for a year. One year later, the box is $8 per month per TV. Boxes go back. There was no reason in my very suburban area to scramble everything....except to force me to rent a box to view a signal I *already paid for*. Double Dip ? I fought this off with cablecard devices until the cable co put a $6 per month charge for "sports programming". I'm not a fan, they would not remove the charge. Turns out I had to pay for ESPN, like it or not. Invested in a better router and repeater. Happily streaming from a variety of sources. Antenna on the roof like Gramps had gets me plenty to feed the DVRs. I still have to pay for the broadband, and the company increased the internet price $10 per month because I don't have "tv'. I have the least evil of the group, Cablevision, and they were pretty good with cable cards when I had the unicorn of the American electronics market, a Free Cable Ready DVR, the obsolete Sony HDD 250. It worked until Rovi killed the listing service a few years back. The "industry" has allowed Tivo to survive, as Tivo has a few key patents which have stifled anyone else, (even Sony!) It is beyond over due that there be privately owned DVR and cable card type devices. You can do this if you are computer savvy, but where are the set top boxes for everyone else at best buy ?
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @09:46PM (#51400463)

    It will be interesting to see how the cable companies fight this. They are moving towards the actual box being rather stupid and all the heavy lifting being done on the back end "in the cloud." If you can buy an equivalent box, but you don't have access to their proprietary code, you're kinda screwed. I suspect that $9/month rental fee would remain and would be renamed a "software license fee" or somesuch.

    Net gain for the consumer....zero.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday January 29, 2016 @10:19PM (#51400605)

      The FCC learned pretty good from how the Cable Companies subverted the Cable Card mandate. This one forces them to pass the data out of their system via open standards, it allows them to continue to pass on the restrictions and other stuff they are using but the key here is everything is in software. There won't be any hardware to rent from the cable company. This is going to make it very difficult for them to subvert like cable card.

      They subverted cable card by getting the FCC to OK creating a certification laboratory. They called this cable labs and they used it to throw so much red tape in front of companies that it became nearly impossible to get hardware through. On top of this they would add conditions about software and other things that they had no business putting into the certification process. On top of this at first they made the cable card process extremely complex to begin with including partial implementation so that anyone that bought a cable card device would find the process either broken or impossibly hard which would bias the public about cable card being bad.

      The software option is going to block all this. They have to pass the data out in an open published way. The FCC just basically made them implement an API and pass everything out. Because there is a lack of hardware there can't be a certification laboratory and because they are required to use open ISO approved standards they can't game the software side.

      I'm sure if there is a way to subvert the process they will find it but this cuts almost all of their current methods off. It should be easy to develop hardware and software systems to implement the standards and if the cable company isn't complying with the standard you should be able to complain to the FCC.

  • ...being that my older Comcast DVR's used CableCard technology. If you looked on the back you could see the slots for them. Of course there was secret sauce in there that allowed OnDemand access and what-not that a Tivo+CC wouldn't do. But for all the pushback against CC's it seems like it probably saves them quite a bit of money as the cost of designing a carrier-locked box must be a lot lower for the OEM's if they can use CC as the starting point and lowest-common-denominator.

    Of course, Comcast's new X

  • While I am certainly a supporter of having an open system where you might actually be able to buy a decent DVR that wasn't designed in 2003, I really think that they have missed the boat. People are cutting the cord left and right (I just did tonight as a matter of fact). With all of the content available online, why do we even need a dedicated STB with software decryption. Hell, Time Warner even has a Roku app that is free and gives you ALMOST all of their programming (and depending on your market even
  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Saturday January 30, 2016 @04:05AM (#51401509)

    If you're like me and get your TV and internet through a coaxial cable connected to a fiber network you should favor local loop unbundling. Make the local loop a public utility and let the content providers compete for my business, both internet and TV. Let the content providers pay the local loop utility for access to my business (yes I know they'd pass the cost on to us but as a utility the local loop would have regulated rates). Then you wouldn't have to regulate the content providers (and ex cable companies) at all. Wouldn't that be a free market?

    • Fiber to the CO is a great fit for that. Entirely passive CWDM is cheap and fiber that could have been put in in the 70's would still work fine today (spec wise). Make the central office a meet me sort of space. Now more enterprising muni's might light a channel to provide lifeline internet/school/government/library/muni peer to peer access and even resell the L2 to providers that do not want to stand up there own infrastructure. In any event the thing that realy should be a monopoly last mile access is

  • I have a Tivo with a cable card. I can already access all my channels and all the Over the Top services (including Comcast's video on demand stuff and pay per view, if I wanted that.) This exists now. How is this different than that?

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