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SDV FAQ

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by bdraw, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    Do you know which devices can't use them? By spec, M-Cards are supposed to be indistinguishable from an S-Card when plugged into an S-Card-only slot (I assume that the card can tell by some difference in signalling and puts itself into compatibility mode). This was so service providers wouldn't have to continue stocking S-Cards when M-Cards became available.
     
  2. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the cable industry to separate the mechanisms which they use for secure conditional access from the devices which they lease so that the those mechanisms could be incorporated into retail products in such a way as to be portable from cable system to cable system. This was similar in intent to the congressional fiat which resulted in the creation of the modular phone jack; I date myself, but when I grew up you had to lease phone handsets from your service provider (at that time, always a division of Bell).

    The cable industry created CableLabs to create standards for that and a few other things (like data modems); CableCARD was a creation of their OpenCable project.

    The FCC asked the cable industry and CE OEMs to sit down and agree upon a standard for carriage of digital television over cable; the separable security requirement got rolled up into that. The two sides went round and round arguing about the details until the FCC finally told them to decided on something by a given date, or they were going to decide for them (having a solution in place was considered to be crucial to the success of the DTV transition). At the end of 2002, the industries came back with the "Plug and Play Memorandum of Understanding", signed by all of the major cable MSOs and CE manufacturers. In September of 2003, the FCC adopted those recommendations (with, I believe, some minor modifications), codifying them into their regulations.
     
  3. JWThiers

    JWThiers Smartypants

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    Thanks for the history lesson.
     
  4. Shmooh

    Shmooh New Member

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    Re: bicker's response to my recent posts - I think we'll just have to agree to disagree, here. I don't agree with your rationale, you don't agree with mine. That's cool - it's an internet message board. Where would we be without conflicting opinions? :D

    One genuine question, though:
    I thought the government gave the cable co's lots of time to do this, but that they were dragging their feet and stalling because they didn't want to help their potential competition? Quite seriously - is that not what happened or is this just your personal interpretation?
     
  5. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    Read the words you quoted again. I said, "... the government rushing regulation ..." The point I was making was that the entity that rushed was the government... The government acted before it (the government) was adequately prepared to act (in a manner that would have deftly avoided the imperfect situations that we have been discussing).

    Now, whether that was because
    (1) the government dragged its feet, or was otherwise unwilling to invest the resources it needed to invest to get itself to the point where it could be adequately prepared to act (i.e., issue regulations to deftly avoid the aforementioned imperfect situations),
    or
    (2) because the reality simply was that there was no way for the government to have been adequately prepared to act (because the future directions of technology and need were not yet clear enough for any reasonable person to have reliably determined what they were going to be) at the time that political pressures were applied, effectively forcing the government to act before it was adequately prepared to act,​
    ... that's an open question.
     
  6. Shmooh

    Shmooh New Member

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    I understood that you said the government was the one who rushed the regulation - sorry if I was unclear.

    I'm not trying to be contentious, but what I'm asking is what evidence you have of that being the case? I'm not accusing, it just wasn't what I thought was the case so I'd like more information about it.
     
  7. JWThiers

    JWThiers Smartypants

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    For starters I don't have an issue withe SDV if it gets more channels on the system fine. Nobody can see into the future that well to predict what the situation will be in 1 year let alone the 5+ years since those regulations were codified. (regulations that the CE OEM's and cable companies helped write I might add) And while the cable companies don't have a legal responsibility to help with TA's, they probably did so voluntarily to prevent the FCC from getting involved. The FCC wanted to help promote competition so they opened up the cable systems to 3rd party devices like Tivo. If the cable companies after years of negotiation with CE OEM's come up with a standard that the FCC codified, then unilaterally made changes to their systems that makes those standards obsolete, without making attempts to minimize the impact of those changes (i.e. help with developing TA's), the FCC would have been justifiably concerned with such actions. IMO that is probably why that enforcement decision was overturned. If they hadn't been working with CE OEM's like Tivo to where possible add an external tuning adapter that enforcement action might have stuck.
     
  8. Stormspace

    Stormspace Electrocuted by TiVo

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    Unfortunately for me SDV hasn't been ruled out as the reason for my issues.
     
  9. morac

    morac Cat God

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    I don't know of any personally, but I recall reading posts by some people who have older TVs that don't work with M-Cards. Remember originally the TiVo S3 didn't work at all with M-Cards until a software upgrade gave it the partial compatibility it has now. So apparently M-Cards aren't 100% backwards compatible or that wouldn't have been an issue. That or chip manufacturers weren't building the card interface to spec.

    Many older TVs don't have the ability to upgrade their firmware so if there is a compatibility problem with M-Cards the user is SOL. The number is probably small though since TVs with cableCARD slots never really caught on.
     
  10. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    I think we're talking at cross-purposes. Let's turn this around, and let me ask you: Why do you think that the government's rules for separable security and facilitation of digital cable-ready access failed to satisfy your personal criteria, with regard to the discussion we're having?
     
  11. bicker

    bicker bUU

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    I don't see anything in the FCC decision overturning the fines of the enforcement division that would support that.
     
  12. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    In the decision as you linked in an earlier post:

    In para. 14:
    Bold emphasis added by me.

    Then in the Para. 15:
    Thus it seems there is at least some support for JWThiers's opinion, noting that the highlighted text was only a small portion of the overall collection of reasons given. If the highlighted reasons did not exist, would the decision have been the same? We can't be sure of that in fact.
     
  13. JWThiers

    JWThiers Smartypants

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    And the TA would work with other CE devices that have an actual USB port (Unfortunately that does NOT include any TV's That I am aware of), not just Tivo's. I have seen where people have used a TA with Windows Media Centers on PC's equipped with cable card devices.
     
  14. mikeyts

    mikeyts Stream Warrior

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    The TA can be made to work on any CableCARD tuner device with a functional USB port, if the manufacturer of that device chooses to modify its code to handle it and can distribute the new firmware to the owners for installation. I believe that there are quite a few televisions on the market with USB ports, generally put there to give access to photos on flash drives and to allow for firmware updates. My 3 y/o Mits LT-46231 (w/CableCARD slot) has a USB connection; I've got a flash drive with a firmware update to give its TV Guide On Screen feature the ability to get data from DTV channels (as opposed to the VBI of now non-existent analog channels).

    Any new Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready devices should probably come with the ability to handle a TA, or be prepared to update soon after launch, like Moxi DVR. However, I suspect that the Moxi DVR will be that last UDCP ever brought to market.
     
  15. Shmooh

    Shmooh New Member

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    Yeah, maybe our signals have crossed a bit.

    My issue with the whole situation is this: SDV was rolled out before a solution for people with CableCards was created and solidified. While I think the blame lies with the cable company for the rollout timeline, if faulty government regulation allowed this, then that would be my issue with the regulation.

    When "broadcast" (i.e., non VoD or PPV) channels are offered to standard customers, they should be offered to CableCard customers (so other devices could use the cable network). That's basically the issue regulation was trying to resolve (right?).

    I think this comes down to the fact that to a non-cablecard customer, SDV doesn't even appear to exist. Yes, it's a new technology that operates behind-the-scenes a tiny bit like VoD, but ultimately it's just a more efficient way of doing broadcast television on a cable network.

    If cable companies can bypass support for third-party devices (Tivo, Moxi, CC-ready TVs, etc.) and force people to rent their boxes to receive "broadcast" service, then that's the issue I have with the regulation and/or cable company rollout of SDV (depending on where you want to put the blame).

    I think the FCC recognized what was happening (how SDV is really just broadcast television with new technology), and fined the cable companies for their premature rollout. The fines were recinded when it appeared the cable companies were trying to make amends via tuning adapters.

    So, my thoughts summary:
    * CableCards are supposed to supply decryption service to allow consumers their choice of device so they wouldn't have to rent boxes from the cable company to watch broadcast television.
    * SDV is really just efficient broadcast television.
    * The regulation is poorly written if it allows "broadcast" television to be delivered without support for third party devices.
    * It appears cable companies took advantage of this loop-hole to roll out SDV without CableCard support and thus not allow/enable "broadcast" television service to third party devices.
    * The FCC fined the cable companies for doing this.

    That seems pretty clear cut to me. It all comes down to whether or not SDV is truly broadcast television or if it's a specialized service like VoD. Legally, it may be classified as the latter (from what has been said here). However, because of how it behaves, it should be classified as the former.

    It's hard/impossible to predict where technology will go, so I don't think it's fair to blame the government for not planning for all contingencies in its regulation. I believe the argument Bicker is trying to make is that the regulation was faulty because it was premature.

    That very well may be true, but if it is, my long held belief was that the cable companies were trying to stall/block this regulation altogether, and were "dragging their feet" to achieve that goal. If the regulation is poorly written (which it apparently is), then I've always thought it's a result of this foot-dragging, not the government jumping the gun as it was simply trying to put an end to the stalling tactics.

    So, if there's any evidence one way or the other, I'd genuinely like to know.

    (Sorry for the length of the post - I'm trying to explain myself as clearly as I can.)
     
  16. imrickster

    imrickster New Member

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    I am on the Greensboro TWC system and I have experienced nothing but frustration. I would love to have a contact that actually understands the technology. Most support people that I have spoken to have limited (if any) understanding of cable cards / tuning adaptors /Tivos.
     
  17. dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    It muddies these discussions to use an incorrect defintion of "broadcast", (e.g., "non VoD or PPV"). From FCC regulations, Title 47, Part 2.1 (Terms and Definitions):
    Thus only local broadcast stations are encompassed by the definition in the context of this discussion, which for most systems excludes the major portion of non-Vod or PPV channels.

    This is an important distinction because there are FCC rules for cable services that are specific to broadcast TV stations, e.g., "must carry".
     
  18. jacksonian

    jacksonian New Member

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    I'm in Greensboro and have had TiVo with cablecards and tuning adapter since they came out. I was the first tuning adapter install in Greensboro.

    What kind of trouble are you having? If you're having trouble with SDV channels, call TWC and say, "I need to be connected to Cable Card Support". Those guys know what they're doing. If you need someone local, pm me and I can give you the email or phone for the supervisor for our area.
     
  19. Dec 1, 2009 #2299 of 2401
    Shmooh

    Shmooh New Member

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    Good point. I was thinking of 'broadcast' from a perspective where a transmission is sent out with no particular target in mind, not the apparently much narrower FCC definition.

    What word should I use to mean: "channels sent out to all people simultaneously on a cable network"?

    Incidentally - I'm perfectly willing to admit that I don't know what I'm talking about in this discussion. I'm not a lawyer, nor a television industry expert. I'm an engineer in an unrelated field with some very basic knowledge of the underlying technologies and how they behave, and I thought I had some basic knowledge of how and why things are they way they are in the cable TV industry. I'm really just looking for new information or clarifications of that knowledge, as it seems like the CableCard situation is even muddier than I already thought it was (which is pretty muddy).
     
  20. Dec 1, 2009 #2300 of 2401
    dlfl

    dlfl Cranky old novice

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    "Broadcast" has traditionally meant OTA, i.e., from an antenna, in the radio and TV industry. In the TCP/IP world there is a broadcast mode that matches your concept, I think. I'm not sure what single word would mean what you intend. Frequently it's just left as implicit context, but I suppose you could say "non-premium, non-PPV and non-VOD" (very clumsy of course).

    My perspective is very similar to yours actually, EE by education at a time when vacuum tubes were mainstream technology. :D

    I think we engineers (being nerds of course) tend to think if we can understand a situation we can devise a solution. In the case of TiVo and Digital Cable, from a user perspective, it may not work that way. It involves so many interlocking political, technical and economic factors.
     

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