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View Full Version : A dumb question but... why not satellite?


magnus
07-05-2007, 10:47 AM
Here is a dumb question but..... why doesn't the FCC require Satellite companies to use cablecards (or something like that)? Are they exempt for some reason? It seems that the end user should be able to use whatever box they want without having to use crappy DVRs like the R15.

I know that you can use a Tivo with Satellite but you can't have dual tuners and you have to use an IR blaster.

lessd
07-05-2007, 10:53 AM
Here is a dumb question but..... why doesn't the FCC require Satellite companies to use cablecards (or something like that)? Are they exempt for some reason? It seems that the end user should be able to use whatever box they want without having to use crappy DVRs like the R15.

I know that you can use a Tivo with Satellite but you can't have dual tuners and you have to use an IR blaster.

And no HD..TiVo did have a DT Satellite box but it was replaced by the Satellite co.s own DT DVR.

magnus
07-05-2007, 10:58 AM
And no HD..TiVo did have a DT Satellite box but it was replaced by the Satellite co.s own DT DVR.

Yes, that's my real point.... it seems that you should be able to use the S3 to get HD satellite but Satellite Co's must be exempt from making their devices cable card compliant. I'm just wondering why that is.

lessd
07-05-2007, 11:09 AM
Yes, that's my real point.... it seems that you should be able to use the S3 to get HD satellite but Satellite Co's must be exempt from making their devices cable card compliant. I'm just wondering why that is.

I think it's more incapability with the Series 3 than just not having cable cards..but others who know can comment.

ZeoTiVo
07-05-2007, 11:33 AM
I think it's more incapability with the Series 3 than just not having cable cards..but others who know can comment.
the S3 was designed in the current reality that only cable companies need to supply cable cards. TiVo saw little point in putting IR blastrs on the S3 since it would only get SD sat content and you might as well use an S1 for that.

to answer the actual question...
The sat companies petitioned the FCC for a waiver or exemption from the open secuirty access provison in the 1996 telecom law on the grounds of large technical issues would hurt them in their current competitive battle with eachother and cable. The FCC granted the request and thus the only way to get the digital stream from sat is in their integrated. proprietary box.
I have no idea if the waiver has a time limit but no one has mentioned one.

wmcbrine
07-05-2007, 11:41 AM
I think the FCC looked on satellite services as competitors to entrenched cable monopolies, which is what they were theoretically trying to encourage anyway, so exempted them on that basis. Also, the satellite services don't use QAM, so they'd have to redo their systems and make existing receivers obsolete in order to fit into the CableCard system. (On the other hand, this might've been worked around by mandating that CableCard devices also support the standards used by the satellite services, as well as QAM.) Also, at the time they were exempted, DirecTV was offering receivers from multiple manufacturers, with different features sets, etc. That was just what the CableCard mandate was meant to accomplish*, so it might've appeared unnecessary to apply it to DirecTV. However, DirecTV has subsequently put an end to that system, and now only allows DirecTV-branded receivers to be made.

Edit: ZeoTivo posted while I was writing this.

* Minus the ability to move STBs from one service to another, of course, which is a pretty big omission.

Justin Thyme
07-05-2007, 12:23 PM
The FCC lays out exactly why DBS was exempted in their original report and order ... specificially on pages 26-28. Search for document 98-116 (in field 2. DA/FCC Number) on the following FCC search page to get the relevant document:
http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi

To roughly paraphrase the policy document cited, the FCC decided to temporarily exempt the DBS providers because 1) they were small and weak newcomers, 2) there was a healthy business for third party provided boxes and 3) The satellite companies did not have a stranglehold on the production of navigation devices for their networks.

None of these conditions are true today.

Further- the Telecom law specifically states that the FCC may only issue temporary waivers.

More issues were considered in depth in this thread. (http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=260501)

Tivo or other CE vendors could have petitioned the FCC to reconsider this waiver, but to my knowlege have not. That's interesting. In a way, Tivo for example would have the best of both worlds if the end game for it is that they have cozy deals with cable, Satellite and FIOS, and all these systems remain closed to all other third party vendors.

ZeoTiVo
07-05-2007, 12:47 PM
Tivo or other CE vendors could have petitioned the FCC to reconsider this waiver, but to my knowlege have not. That's interesting. In a way, Tivo for example would have the best of both worlds if the end game for it is that they have cozy deals with cable, Satellite and FIOS, and all these systems remain closed to all other third party vendors.the tenor of TiVo's public statemnets did seem to shift toward more of a cooperative stance after the comcast deal was signed.

atmuscarella
07-05-2007, 01:16 PM
Don't confuse "Tuners" with security/decryption. DBS (Satellite) tuners are not the issue TiVo could have added them to the Series 3 with minimum effort and cost. There is no reason that cable and satellite couldn't be using universal security/decryption other than the satellite companies talked their way out of it.

Thanks,

vstone
07-05-2007, 02:24 PM
Plus D* and E* don't use exactly the same technology. You'd have to build an STB to do both, or both & QAM, or both & QAM & (FIOS compatible). After all that, you'd probably get OTA for free.

D* & E* do not yet have a facsimile of the "Broadcast Cable" (only) tier.

Plus, it was politically easy for Congressfolk to hate cable companies in 1996, not so easy with sat companies. The only reason that most Congressfolk care about the digital transition is the ability to sell bandwidth for cash, the ability to make bandwidth available for emergency services, and to make political points. If you ask a reasonably technical cable question to your Congressfolk, chances are they won't research it to any great degree. Not worth their time.

bicker
07-05-2007, 03:22 PM
That's really it... it is politically easy to hate cable companies. It gives the masses someone to be angry at, and politicos use that any way they can.

Justin Thyme
07-05-2007, 05:50 PM
We have multiband phones that also do bluetooth and wireless G. Slowly, we are moving to a world where providers must now allow unlocked phones that can be used to used with other providers and don't have hobbled feature sets. Before unlocked phones, services were for example disallowing a wireless-G connection that would allow Skype calls to be placed at a wireless hotspot to avoid long distance or roaming charges.

Similarly in the video segment, it would be possible to have a converged device that could access multiple video services. Many Cable users still have sat dishes still mounted on their roofs. Consumers don't buy all their clothes from Sears. We shouldn't think it is normal to buy all of our video from one source too.

Would the tuners and authentication hardware cost more? Maybe a bit. We should probably start a thread to explore that. But it doesn't take many times saving dough by switching to a competitors PPV or premium package to make it an attractive way of saving money on video while getting greater variety.

It doesn't have to happen overnight, but we should get there so that we can see some competition for the consumer's choice at the video show transaction level, rather than the only competition there is now- for the user's choice of providers- whole enchilada take-it-or-leave-it level. After that, the provider need not compete for the consumer's favor- they can squeeze pretty hard before the consumer will be pissed off enough to go through the barriers to exiting their service.

I think it really odd that those presuming to celebrate capitalism love the concept except when it comes to that nasty notion of competition.

HDTiVo
07-05-2007, 06:00 PM
But it doesn't take many times saving dough by switching to a competitors PPV or premium package to make it an attractive way of saving money on video while getting greater variety.

Well, there is Unbox on TiVo. ;)

Justin Thyme
07-05-2007, 07:41 PM
I wonder if that is enough. Is internet video all that is necessary to see competition in the video space? It seems to me you need head to head competition between the major suppliers.

I wonder what it would take to have a DirectTV / Dish / Cablecard / FIOS converged Host.

Okey dokey. Maybe other folks wonder the same. I made a thread for it.

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=5300918#post5300918

HDTiVo
07-05-2007, 07:53 PM
I wonder if that is enough. Is internet video all that is necessary to see competition in the video space? It seems to me you need head to head competition between the major suppliers.

I wonder what it would take to have a DirectTV / Dish / Cablecard / FIOS converged Host.

Okey dokey. Maybe other folks wonder the same. I made a thread for it.

http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?p=5300918#post5300918
It does open up a lot of questions. You have to think about what perspective you are looking at openness/competition from (ie. that other thread.)

Interesting that any TiVo from the first Series2 in late '01 can get this form (however its valued) of VOD even if only receiving OTA-NTSC.

Justin Thyme
07-06-2007, 01:53 AM
Interesting that any TiVo from the first Series2 in late '01 can get this form (however its valued) of VOD even if only receiving OTA-NTSC.
Thank god we are going digital and fixed all of that.

HDTiVo
07-06-2007, 07:00 AM
Thank god we are going digital and fixed all of that.
Perhaps it is the way we are going all digital that is a concern. Digital could be just as accessible - even more - than analog, with all sorts of additional benefits.

magnus
07-06-2007, 09:00 AM
Thanks for all the info but I wonder how in the world the FCC does not see that this is a problem today. It does not seem fair to me to require the Cable Co's to do this and not the Satellite Co's. The Satellite Co's are even more of a monopoly today than some of the Cable Co's ever were.

BobCamp1
07-06-2007, 11:17 AM
Perhaps it is the way we are going all digital that is a concern. Digital could be just as accessible - even more - than analog, with all sorts of additional benefits.

And even more hinderances, like DRM. :(

BobCamp1
07-06-2007, 11:38 AM
Thanks for all the info but I wonder how in the world the FCC does not see that this is a problem today. It does not seem fair to me to require the Cable Co's to do this and not the Satellite Co's. The Satellite Co's are even more of a monopoly today than some of the Cable Co's ever were.

The government treats the cable cos, satellite companies, and FIOS as competitors in the same market. In this view, the major cable companies own a majority of the market (58%). The FCC allows waivers for satellite, FIOS, and smaller cable companies so they aren't accidentally squashed.

However, satellite is now in 29% of households. I think when satellite becomes more established in a few years, and shows it can maintain that market share, the FCC will stop granting waivers to them.

Here's an article that talks about market share and also breaks out DVR market share. It's the only one I could find that was less than a year old:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/08/cable_satellite.html

Justin Thyme
07-06-2007, 11:48 AM
Thanks for all the info but I wonder how in the world the FCC does not see that this is a problem today. It does not seem fair to me to require the Cable Co's to do this and not the Satellite Co's. The Satellite Co's are even more of a monopoly today than some of the Cable Co's ever were.
If the 1996 Telecom law is to be followed, the waiver that the Satellite Company's got will expire. When that happens, there is some work to be done. Are we going to a converged device where a customer could be watching video from one of 4 different video distributors? Or is a standard platform per category sufficient-

Cablecard for cable companies
A Sat standard for DBS- DirecTV, DishTv, and all of the piddly small ones
an IP one for Fiber/FIOS/DSL/broadband over gas pipes
an OTA one for digital broadcast (ATSC already in place)

I suppose you could do it in phases- first by category, designed for establishing commonality so that a converged device could be built. EG make 2 and 3 use some standard subset of DVB.

A standard for security and two way is really needed across all. For example, take Cable and OTA. Local stations certainly could broadcast PPV movies now that they can do 4 channels in place of one. So user looks up on their guide and sees there is a good deal for a movie broadcast locally, it orders the movie via internet link (using two way standard); the Tivo/third party device downloads the decryption software to its secure processor from the local station's web site (security standard)- and you are good to go.

Broadcom does secure processors already. All the FCC has to do is decide on a generic secure processor and mandate its use for secure video transactions across all categories of video distribution.

T

classicsat
07-06-2007, 03:36 PM
Plus D* and E* don't use exactly the same technology.

They are close enough a universal hardware could be made, with the differences mad up at the software/microcode level.


D* & E* do not yet have a facsimile of the "Broadcast Cable" (only) tier.

They don't have to.


The only reason that most Congressfolk care about the digital transition is the ability to sell bandwidth for cash, the ability to make bandwidth available for emergency services
A different situation entirely than Cablecard. It just happens the have similar time goals and may affect the same equipment.

classicsat
07-06-2007, 03:44 PM
If the 1996 Telecom law is to be followed, the waiver that the Satellite Company's got will expire. When that happens, there is some work to be done. Are we going to a converged device where a customer could be watching video from one of 4 different video distributors? Or is a standard platform per category sufficient-

Cablecard for cable companies
A Sat standard for DBS- DirecTV, DishTv, and all of the piddly small ones
an IP one for Fiber/FIOS/DSL/broadband over gas pipes
an OTA one for digital broadcast (ATSC already in place)


Fundamentally, there would be one for IP, one for ATSC/QAM (as the S3 TiVo is today; FIOS is largely not unlike QAM cable), and a satellite/OTA box.

Broadcom does secure processors already. All the FCC has to do is decide on a generic secure processor and mandate its use for secure video transactions across all categories of video distribution.


If push comes to shove they will mandate something. Until they do, they will let the market decide.

vstone
07-06-2007, 03:45 PM
...
They don't have to. (have a basic tier)
... Never said they did, but the whole purpose of cablecards is leveling the field. If we're going after a universal box, it begs the question of why they don't all have the same requirements. there are good reasons for & against it, but in a perfect world (i.e. not the FCC) this would at least be discussed.

Justin Thyme
07-06-2007, 03:55 PM
FIOS is largely not unlike QAM cable) Half is. The other VOD part is DVB over IP. No QAM there. For that, Fios sends the channel requests not on RF, but on the upstream IP band.