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Is AT&T an exempt cable company?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Lyrical1, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Lyrical1

    Lyrical1 New Member

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    Oct 12, 2002
    California
    Over the years I have learned a great deal of useful information here. As a newb, I remember getting great advice on everything from how use the finer points in programing season passes to how to use a multiswitch for DTV. Thank you to all who’ve helped.

    One of the things I learned on the TiVo Community Forum is that cable companies are required to offer cablecards for TiVos and other devices. So, here’s my newest question: Why is AT&T exempt from this regulation?

    I now live in an area whose television is served by Comcast and AT&T. I have had a Comcast cablecard for years, although I get a huge amount of marketing material from AT&T who want me to switch to their U-verse service. When I call AT&T and ask about cablecards they give me evasive answers. Either they “don’t know what a cablecard is.” Or, they may “offer them in the future.”

    Is AT&T not a cable service? Are they not regulated by the same organization (FCC?) that regulates Comcast, Time-Warner Cable, Cox, et al?
     
  2. LoadStar

    LoadStar LOAD"*",8,1

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    AT&T is not a cable service. They deliver their TV programming via IP over their DSL network, and therefore they would be categorized as an information service.

    Because they do not use any traditional "cable TV" technology, CableCards are wholly incompatible with their service.
     
  3. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Birmingham, AL
    It's the same reason satellite TV companies are exempt, and it's why the AllVid initiative exists. They don't use cable TV technology so they are exempt. AllVid wants to require all MVPDs to adhere to a cablecard-style requirement.

    FiOS is not exempt because they use cable TV technology, the only difference is that it's fiber all the way to your house instead of fiber to your neighborhood. Once it hits your house and turns to coax, it's essentially the same as cable TV from Comcast or anyone else (with a few minor differences that are insignificant when considering CableCard rules)
     
  4. Lyrical1

    Lyrical1 New Member

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    Oct 12, 2002
    California
    Thanks for the quick response. Now I understand.

    It does make me wonder about the cablecard requirement rules and the intent of those rules, but I'm not a lawyer. I suppose AT&T was smart by using a lot of preexisting infrastructure to deliver TV service and to avoid this regulation.

    It is frustrating. I'd like to see more competition and, possibly, lower prices, better service and faster speeds. From what I've read we're far from the top of the list of the speediest industrialized countries that have internet.

    Thanks.
     
  5. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Active Member

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    Jan 12, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    I've never had U-verse myself, but from everything I have read it is a pretty substandard technology. Using the same unshielded, decades-old copper telephone lines that were never designed to carry large amounts of data to transmit broadband internet/television service is really absurd when you actually think about it. The lack of bandwidth over unshielded telephone wire creates multiple problems:

    1. Your data speeds drop off drastically after about 2500 feet from the node.
    2. Unless your house is less than 1000 feet from the node, I seriously doubt you will ever get internet speeds above 30mbps in practice.
    3. The lack of bandwidth is why you are limited to 4 simultaneous TV streams (so you can forget about a 6-tuner DVR on ATT ever).
    4. To save bandwidth, ATT compresses those TV streams more than those of the cable or satellite, thus decreasing video quality.

    We have the option of ATT U-verse in my area, but I doubt I would ever give it a try despite my hatred for Time Warner. I really wish that all telephone companies had been required to go FTTH like FIOS. On principle, I just don't think I would be able to bring myself to reward ATT for choosing to go the cheap route with inferior technology in order to pad their short-term profits to the detriment of their customers. Plus my house is about 2600 feet from the node, so my data speeds would probably be crap anyways.
     
  6. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Birmingham, AL
    AT&T didn't go the route they did to avoid CableCard requirements. MVPDs want to gut those requirements, but they don't shape major strategic decisions. AT&T rolled out U-Verse in the way they did because it was cheap to re-use all the copper in the ground already instead of replace it with fiber or coax.

    The intent of CableCard was to promote retail devices. When the rules were put into place, the world was completely different. The only exemption was the satellite companies.

    Also, internet speeds have little or nothing to do with this discussion.
     
  7. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Active Member

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    Disagree. From what I understand on how U-verse works, your total bandwidth is shared between TV streams and internet. So the more simultaneous TV streams you have going, the slower your internet speeds will be. I do not want to have to choose between watching (or recording) live TV and faster internet speed.
     
  8. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Nov 19, 2010
    Birmingham, AL
    It doesn't have anything to do with cablecard regulation or why AT&T is exempt.
     
  9. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Active Member

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    If U-verse had the same bandwidth available as Fios, then AT&T probably would have used traditional cable technology to deliver video and would not have been exempt from the regulations.
     
  10. atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

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    When it comes to the Satellite companies the FCC sold us out, there is no technical reason they shouldn't be using cable cards. The Satellite companies simple didn't want to switch from what they were using and paid off enough people to get themselves exempted from the rules.

    AT&T U-verse is a little different in that their type of service was not covered by the law, but again no technical reason for not using cable cards.

    The simple reality is that our Government has been bought and paid for by big money/business. Does not really matter if it is Dems or Reps big money/business pays of both sides. It is very unlikely that our Government will ever do anything that is good for the little guy unless it is also be good for big money/business. And of course big money/business expects us to just bend over and take it with a smile, which is about all we can do :eek:.
     
  11. JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Nov 19, 2010
    Birmingham, AL
    Not necessarily. Even if they had 100 Gigabits of capacity on twisted pair copper, they might still have decided to go with IP multicast instead of QAM broadcast.

    There are technical reasons satellite and IPTV aren't covered specifically by cablecards, and that is that satellite and IPTV use completely different technology. Now, there's no technical reason that the FCC couldn't require these companies to open up their systems to retail devices, but that's a different story.
     
  12. andyw715

    andyw715 Active Member

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    Not U-verse related, but do cable company boxes have essentially cable cards inside of them? i.e. if you opened one up is there a CC slot?
     
  13. LoadStar

    LoadStar LOAD"*",8,1

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    Old ones, ones in service from before the integration ban, no. New ones, yes.

    I know the Cisco ones will have a slot, but then there is a plastic cover screwed over it to prevent the card from being removed.
     
  14. moonscape

    moonscape Member

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    SF Bay Area
    I wish there had been a reason keeping me from getting ATT at my rental place in NC. I live in CA and have used Comcast for years, but there the choice was the small city-owned service or U-Verse. I was only there less than half the year, so wanted something as simple and thrifty as I could get. So I went with U-Verse and it was a disaster.

    At that time (1.5 yrs ago) there was a separate dept for U-Verse and the customer service was miles worse than anything I've encountered with ATT (I have a landline and my cell w/ them). Their reps must be on commission because they completely lied to me about prices, promotions, equipment, etc to get me to switch from the DSL I had had in the house previously. I must have spent 20 hours on the phone with them after getting my first bill - constant holds and then disconnects after long periods - and never got the issues resolved.

    I finally got out with my life and a $500 lighter wallet after two months of -promotional- service (internet and phone.) Seriously. I came close to setting up a blog for horror stories about U-Verse but didn't want to give them any more of my life. It was the biggest consumer nightmare I've experienced. Ever.

    Maybe they've gotten better. I hope so.
     
  15. dianebrat

    dianebrat drastically off narrative TCF Club

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    I'm pretty sure Verizon FiOS is not considered cable and does not fall under those regulatory rules, as I recall they follow them anyway because they expected if it were ever brought up they would be classified as such.
     
  16. MikeAndrews

    MikeAndrews Registered abuser

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    Northern...
    In Austin AT&T just rolled out UVerse service at 300Mbps. http://www.att.com/shop/u-verse/gigapower.html

    Besides even over copper, the service is much faster than what the customer gets for Internet access. The video part is not part of the subscribed service.

    I've had 4HD streams and 2 SD going at once. How many TVs are you going to watch at the same time?
     
  17. tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Active Member

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    ATT's U-verse "Gigapower" service in Austin isn't over rotting copper telephone wire, it is a true fiber-to-the-home network. Isn't it strange that ATT only chose 1 market to do a modern network the right way and it was the same market that Google Fiber has chosen to expand into. What a strange coincidence huh?

    Speaking of the Austin market, it looks like Austin will have another option for gigabit speed at only $65/month from Grande Communications. So customers in Austin could potentially have 3 choices for 1000 Mbps internet for around $70/month (or maybe even 4 choices eventually if DOCSIS 3.1 holds up to the hype). It's very refreshing to see what true competition in broadband internet looks like. It happens so rarely in this country. I may have to move to Austin.

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Grande-Offers-1-Gbps-for-65-in-Austin-127685
     
  18. lessd

    lessd Active Member

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    With a couple of Roamio 6 tuner TiVos one could record 12 channels at once, the number of people watching different TVs is irrelevant. This is a TiVo DVR form after all.
     
  19. Bigg

    Bigg On the fence to being a cord-cutter.

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    Exactly. They went with copper because they are cheap, and are looking only at the extremely short-term, not the longer term, where it is fiber or die. They built U-Verse as a cripple from day one, with extremely limited bandwidth.

    I think it's regulated as cable. It's delivered to the customer as a 860mhz QAM256 signal, which would get it regulated as an 860mhz QAM256 signal, which is cable.
     
  20. mattack

    mattack Active Member

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    No, that's not the same reason. The satellite companies are exempt because they got an exemption, not because they are inherently incompatible with the rules.

    I know that sounds like I'm using a circular argument, but I'm not. I can't think of a better way to word it though.

    The satellite companies _should_ have been covered (so we could have One Card to rule them all, and have one Tivo to record OTA, cable, or satellite) by the same ruling that made CableCards.. But satellite got an exemption, I think because they were comparatively very small when the separate security requirement started.
     

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