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Old 10-10-2007, 12:44 PM   #451
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That's not entirely true. There are tens of millions of pieces of UDCR equipment out there other than TiVos, and some small percentage of them are being used with CableCARDs. Though you certainly can't count on it, the providers will probably avoid moving cash-cow premiums like the Showtime, HBO, Cinemax and Starz! tiers into SDV because the can't count on any of the CableCARD subs who are paying extra for them now agreeing to take a box in order to get them.
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Old 10-10-2007, 01:27 PM   #452
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Originally Posted by mikeyts
That's not entirely true. There are tens of millions of pieces of UDCR equipment out there other than TiVos, and some small percentage of them are being used with CableCARDs. Though you certainly can't count on it, the providers will probably avoid moving cash-cow premiums like the Showtime, HBO, Cinemax and Starz! tiers into SDV because the can't count on any of the CableCARD subs who are paying extra for them now agreeing to take a box in order to get them.

unfortunately I think your nunmbers are way high.

there's only tens of millions of HD equipment in the wild. Only a small percentage of them have cablecard slots. And only a small percentage of those have cablecards in them for a variety of reasons.

http://www.ncta.com/IssueBrief.aspx?...Id=2711&view=4

Quote:
By June 15 of 2007, the five largest MSOs – which serve nearly 80% of the cable subscribers in the country – have deployed over 241,000 CableCARDs. When the CableCARDs deployed by the next five largest companies are included, there have been over 271,000 CableCARDs deployed by cable operators serving approximately 90% of the cable subscribers in the country.
so maybe there's 300,000 or so at the moment. How many of those are going to have HD preminums like HBO/SHO/Cinemax/Stars? Of those some percentage will just grin and bear it and get a new cable box. So the numbers for any one cable company that might give up premium revenue is probably only in the tens of thousands.
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Old 10-10-2007, 02:59 PM   #453
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The point is that the more popular the channel, the less benefit is derived from putting it on SDV. The optimal assignment to SDV will always be in reverse order of popularity.
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:12 PM   #454
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The point is that the more popular the channel, the less benefit is derived from putting it on SDV. The optimal assignment to SDV will always be in reverse order of popularity.
Aren't you still making the assumption they will only SDV some stuff? They might as well SDV everything they legally can if they are going to use SDV. Less benefit is not the same thing as no benefit.
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Old 10-10-2007, 03:16 PM   #455
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Absolutely. If they SDV everything, then they're still using the optimal formula I outlined in my message above.
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Old 10-10-2007, 04:12 PM   #456
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I think it is fair to say that any new HD channels offered on cable will probably be SDV. But I don't think you can go so far as to say existing HD channels will not be moved to SDV. If cable companies are going to spend the money to deply SDV, the only reason not to move existing HD would be to keep S3 owners happy. That's not much of a reason in their minds.
Cablevision has added new mainstream HD channels to their line-up using the standard delivery method (no SDV). So far, the only offerings they have put on SDV are the specialty packages.
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Old 10-10-2007, 04:14 PM   #457
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Hopefully THAT will be the most common model applied.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:00 PM   #458
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I think it is fair to say that any new HD channels offered on cable will probably be SDV. But I don't think you can go so far as to say existing HD channels will not be moved to SDV. If cable companies are going to spend the money to deply SDV, the only reason not to move existing HD would be to keep S3 owners happy. That's not much of a reason in their minds.
Congress has already had committee meetings to address the fact that SDV and the inability to get CableCard II's working in third-party boxes is in violation of the spirit if not the legal intent of the CableCard regulations. This is in spite of the fact that new generation set-top boxes are supposed to use them as well. Time Warner here in Charlotte indicated to me that their NEW STB's are indeed CableCard II enabled.
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:11 AM   #459
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Congress has already had committee meetings to address the fact that SDV and the inability to get CableCard II's working in third-party boxes is in violation of the spirit if not the legal intent of the CableCard regulations.
And Congress took what action?
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Old 10-11-2007, 05:47 AM   #460
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No one left out

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Originally Posted by pmiranda
A USB-powered and connected RF (well, QAM in the RF band) interface is exactly what makes sense to build. Everybody that has cablecards has cable. Not everybody has a cablemodem, DSL, or another kind of internet access. Everything else you two are debating would leave some percentage of users out in the cold, and everything but a software-only solution for broadband-connected TiVos with charitable cablecos will cost more.
If you will re-read my posts, you will see I am not leaving anyone out. My request is for an overall solution which covers everyone's needs both today and in the future without limiting the technology's growth and future potential. The USB / RF only solution only makes sense if one wants to dig a deeper hole than the one we are already in, and entrenches an inferior, inherently obsolete design which will just be all that much harder to eliminate a few months down the road. To anyone who hasn't thought through the situation in depth it may seem the easiest solution, but as is often the case the easy solution is not the best. It's often not even the easiest. The fact it may cost more in the short term is not in and of itself a good excuse to force a solution which will cost much, much more in the long term.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:02 AM   #461
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Missing it

By the way, there is another piece of the puzzle many people are missing in this whole dongle debate. The fact a device such as a television has a USB port does not mean it will automatically work with a USB dongle. In fact, it won't, and for most devices there will be no simple way to get it to work with the dongle. While the TVs and other receivers often do have USB ports, very few if any have any UI tied to the USB port, and none have the required networking in place. DVRs like the TiVo are unique in this respect. Depending on the design, it may or may not even be possible to update the firmware in the device without physcially changing out hardware, and even if the device does have EPROM based firmware, it may not be downloadable / programmable by the user. I know my CableCard enabled TV is not, and it's a relatively new one. What this means is at the very least is that unless your device has a download utility available to it (like the TiVo), at a bare minimum it's going to require a trip to the repair shop. In practial terms, if the device is not network enabled, it's not going to be pretty.
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Old 10-11-2007, 08:36 AM   #462
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If you care about TV's, it's probably too late. I haven't seen many with a USB connection, much less ethernet and networking support. I suppose a TV with USB for connecting a camera could probably have the software added to use a dongle of some sort, but if it has a USB port meant only for firmware upgrades, chances are it will not be a host port and therefore wouldn't have the hardware capability to use the same dongle that a TiVo would want. I suppose if you were very clever then the dongle could sense (or have a mode switch or two connectors, or just two versions) that would allow it to be the host or an endpoint and then hope that your TV has enough capability to link the USB port to the cablecard, which is not a foregone conclusion.
If I've read your posts accurately, the unique thing you're proposing is to connect a dongle via ethernet, which definitely require more software work than a simple USB device meant to add back the RF transmit capability TiVo left out of their boxes. (Presumably under threat from CableLabs that it wouldn't be certified if it had transmit capability without OCAP?) The cablecards already have all the firmware to generate the packets they need to communicate to the head-end, and they even have their own MAC addresses... all that's missing is the physical layer, so adding in a route up through a different network via TiVo's ethernet port is just slower and more complicated, and I fail to see how it's any improvement beyond reducing the number of loads on the cable line. (No improvement if your ethernet-connected dongle then has an RF transceiver to communicate with the head-end.)
Maybe folks would understand if you restate what it is you're proposing?
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:21 AM   #463
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Originally Posted by lrhorer
By the way, there is another piece of the puzzle many people are missing in this whole dongle debate. The fact a device such as a television has a USB port does not mean it will automatically work with a USB dongle. In fact, it won't, and for most devices there will be no simple way to get it to work with the dongle. While the TVs and other receivers often do have USB ports, very few if any have any UI tied to the USB port, and none have the required networking in place. DVRs like the TiVo are unique in this respect. Depending on the design, it may or may not even be possible to update the firmware in the device without physcially changing out hardware, and even if the device does have EPROM based firmware, it may not be downloadable / programmable by the user. I know my CableCard enabled TV is not, and it's a relatively new one. What this means is at the very least is that unless your device has a download utility available to it (like the TiVo), at a bare minimum it's going to require a trip to the repair shop. In practial terms, if the device is not network enabled, it's not going to be pretty.
No, the "tuning resolver" is definitely not going to solve the problem for the vast majority of UDCR products. Many don't have USB connections and for some that do have them, it might not be possible for those connections to be manipulated by their firmware in the required ways.

Field upgradable firmware is becoming more and more common; there's a service created by a company called UpdateLogic which broadcasts firmware updates for client devices on a low bandwidth datacasting loop. It's kind of a cool idea--my local PBS affilliate (KPBS) is carrying their datacasts in their broadcast transport stream (TSreader analysis of a recording of KPBS show that they're using an aggregate 30 Kbps on two "programs", about 13 MB worth of stuff per hour, minus whatever overhead their system adds).

My own television has a memory card slot for direct viewing of digital camera pics; you can download firmware updates and load them onto a memory card (or get preloaded cards sent to you by the manufacturer) and effect an update that way. It's straightforward, but not the easiest technology for Joe and Jill Average to deal with. Memory card firmware updates have been a feature of some televisions for quite a few years now.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:45 AM   #464
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The point is that the more popular the channel, the less benefit is derived from putting it on SDV. The optimal assignment to SDV will always be in reverse order of popularity.
From a technical standpoint, yes. From a bean counter's spend less and make more standpoint, not necessarily.
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Old 10-11-2007, 01:38 PM   #465
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I'm not sure what arrangement would be better than reverse order of popularity, from a financial standpoint.

Hmmmm... okay, I think I understand what you're saying, i.e., that some amount of sub-optimization in the technical aspect may be tolerable by the vast majority of the customer-base, and also consequently prompt more rental of cable company equipment, since it would be less of a hassle than dealing with the tuning resolver. Understood.
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Old 10-11-2007, 01:56 PM   #466
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SDV question

From what I have read cable cards have the ability to decode SDV channels it just can't communicate upstream, correct?. I have both a HDTivo and digital cable box. If TWC(in Dallas) ever decided to goto SDV couldn't I request the SDV channel on the digital cable box in the other room and then be able to watch the programing on the Tivo?
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Old 10-11-2007, 02:22 PM   #467
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From what I have read cable cards have the ability to decode SDV channels it just can't communicate upstream, correct?. I have both a HDTivo and digital cable box. If TWC(in Dallas) ever decided to goto SDV couldn't I request the SDV channel on the digital cable box in the other room and then be able to watch the programing on the Tivo?
No good... there's no way to know which of the dozens of possible frequencies the channel will be delivered on, and the cablecard will refuse to map the channel onto SDV frequencies anyway. You can manually change some QAM tuners to grab SDV channels but I don't think TiVo will do it. I know I've tried it here on TW Austin and it didn't work.
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:51 AM   #468
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I updated the first post because keeping it accurate is like hitting a moving target. Also, I saw an article in the WSJ that listed a few markets that were using SDV. So from now on, I'll just keep a list of markets that we know use SDV.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:17 PM   #469
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I updated the first post because keeping it accurate is like hitting a moving target.
Well, shucks.

I had thought it was an enormously clever meta-joke, where you were illustrating the SDV problem by trying futilely to keep up with the dynamically changing channel map.

Come to think of it, I suppose throwing one's hands in the air could be the punchline.
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Old 10-12-2007, 06:32 PM   #470
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Originally Posted by vstone
From a technical standpoint, yes. From a bean counter's spend less and make more standpoint, not necessarily.
It also depends on what is meant by "popular" in the context of the CATV company's offerings, particularly VOD, Video RE-Do and Pay Per View. Relatively little benefit is accorded for regular broadcast channels, but significant benefit is gained if that same content is offered as VOD or Video Re-Do. Extremely large benefit is gained from Pay Per View, since it has the simultaneously the highest markup and greatest diversity of programming.
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Old 10-12-2007, 06:36 PM   #471
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Duplicate SDV

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Originally Posted by pmiranda
No good... there's no way to know which of the dozens of possible frequencies the channel will be delivered on, and the cablecard will refuse to map the channel onto SDV frequencies anyway. You can manually change some QAM tuners to grab SDV channels but I don't think TiVo will do it. I know I've tried it here on TW Austin and it didn't work.
Not only that, but the decoder information is specific to a particular CableCard. If the headend hasn't told the card it can decode the signal and how, it won't and couldn't if it tried.
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Old 10-12-2007, 10:43 PM   #472
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Dongle

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
If you care about TV's, it's probably too late. I haven't seen many with a USB connection, much less ethernet and networking support.
Exactly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
I suppose a TV with USB for connecting a camera could probably have the software added to use a dongle of some sort, but if it has a USB port meant only for firmware upgrades, chances are it will not be a host port and therefore wouldn't have the hardware capability to use the same dongle that a TiVo would want.
Not only that, but there may not be a simple way to carry the output from the CableCard out to the USB port. In the DVR, everything is managed by and communicates with the CPU, but in a TV, the tuning section and the USB port section may be completely independent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
If I've read your posts accurately, the unique thing you're proposing is to connect a dongle via ethernet, which definitely require more software work than a simple USB device meant to add back the RF transmit capability TiVo left out of their boxes.
No, not really. The Linux Kernel already has all the networking support built right in to the Ethernet port and the CableCard interface. It's very simple to bridge them using freely available Linux uitilities, or with some very simple custom utilities. Networking the USB port is not difficult, either, but it then absolutely requires a dongle. If done properly, though, those with broadband access with their CATV company, wouldn't need a dongle at all. Those with broadband access from some other vendor might need a dongle, but it could be either USB or Ethernet. If their CATV company allows VPN access via the Internet, then once again it could be done without a dongle at all. Otherwise, take your pick, Ethernet or USB. Just as companies like Linksys and NetGear offer several different types of broadband router, they could offer 2 or 3 different types of dongle. Right no you can drive down to your local computer store and buy a plain broadband router, a wireless broadband router. A VOIP broadband router. A wireless VOIP broadband router, a combination media gateway and wireless broadband router, or a wireless cable gateway with built in wireless access point and DOCSIS modem. The latter is what I am using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
The cablecards already have all the firmware to generate the packets they need to communicate to the head-end, and they even have their own MAC addresses... all that's missing is the physical layer,
'Correct, but that bridge can just as easily be via the Ethernet port as the USB port.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
so adding in a route up through a different network via TiVo's ethernet port is just slower and more complicated
It's not significantly slower, and it isn't any more complex. If the system is designed properly, then all the TiVo will need is a primitive router utility added to forward the packets from the CableCard to the Ethernet port. Depending on the details of the system, it might need to be a VPN endpoint utility, straight NAT, or possibly a spoofed MAC address.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmiranda
and I fail to see how it's any improvement beyond reducing the number of loads on the cable line. (No improvement if your ethernet-connected dongle then has an RF transceiver to communicate with the head-end.)
Maybe folks would understand if you restate what it is you're proposing?
The improvement is that for some users, a dongle won't be necessary. For others, it may be necessary, and can be available. An alternate system would require a dongle for all users, but only one per household rather than one per device.
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Old 10-13-2007, 07:32 AM   #473
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So does anyone know if there is going to be a solution for SDV or are tives just going to become useless bricks? I was looking to get two Tivo HD's but am now hesitant.
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Old 10-13-2007, 07:59 AM   #474
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So does anyone know if there is going to be a solution for SDV or are tives just going to become useless bricks? I was looking to get two Tivo HD's but am now hesitant.
Apparently TiVo went to the FCC about this, and I have it on good authority that at least one major Operator is now working with them on what is called an "SDV Resolver" for one-way CableCARD CE devices. It is my understanding that it will interface with TiVo S3 and TiVoHD via the USB port...

I suppose it's anybody's guess as to "When" this will be available.

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Old 10-13-2007, 08:02 AM   #475
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No one can foresee the future, but all indications are that TiVo is working with cable system operators to deploy a solution which they've worked-out in principle. There are no guarantees: (1) No guarantees with regard to whether things will all work out; (2) No guarantees that your specific cable company will be willing to participate; (3) No guarantees with regard to how well the solution will work as compared to non-SDV applications; (4) No guarantees with regard to the time-frame for deployment of a solution; (5) No guarantees that SDV won't arrive at your doorstep before this solution is available to you; and (6) No guarantees with regard to how much extra this solution will cost you.

Personally, knowing all this, I still bought a TiVo S3 earlier this year. You have to make your own choice in light of this information.
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Old 10-13-2007, 07:28 PM   #476
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Apparently TiVo went to the FCC about this, and I have it on good authority that at least one major Operator is now working with them on what is called an "SDV Resolver" for one-way CableCARD CE devices. It is my understanding that it will interface with TiVo S3 and TiVoHD via the USB port...

I suppose it's anybody's guess as to "When" this will be available.

Barry
Uh, we've been discussing the "tuning resolver" (aka "dongle") for most of the past couple of hundred posts in this thread. Though TiVo was named as a collaborator on it, the use of such a device was proposed to the FCC by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in a filing made back at the end of August(here, "tuning resolver" on PDF page 36).

bicker, I don't think anybody's going to manufacture or distribute this dongle until the FCC decides what should be done about the SDV-rendering-UDCR-equipment-nearly-useless situation. They'll choose to go with the dongle or with the CEA's proposal for "UDCR+" or some other viable solution someone else proposes. In any case, I forsee them modifying their regs to require that the cable providers under their regulation provide the chosen solution by a specific deadline. It won't be left up to their choice.
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Old 10-14-2007, 05:11 AM   #477
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I don't think we know that Mike. As others have pointed in out in related threads, the folks involved here may perceive a benefit in acting without mandate, for fear of how draconian the mandate would be if they don't choose the action they want to take themselves.

So, again, no guarantees.
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Old 10-14-2007, 08:57 AM   #478
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I don't think we know that Mike. As others have pointed in out in related threads, the folks involved here may perceive a benefit in acting without mandate, for fear of how draconian the mandate would be if they don't choose the action they want to take themselves.

So, again, no guarantees.
Whether they initially choose to act without mandate, it is likely that they will get a mandate in one direction or another. The issue of the effect of SDV on deployed UDCR products has been brought to the FCC by the CEA with a proposed solution; the NCTA has responded with heavy criticism of that proposal and proposed another solution. Although I suppose that it's possible that the FCC will respond with, "Okay, UDCR, a system that you created under heavy pressure from the FCC, is being rendered nearly useless; we're okay with that--nothing needs to be done," I strongly doubt that this will be their response. They will select something to try to remedy the situation, probably one of the two proposals, possibly with modifications. If someone goes ahead and tries to implement one of them before the FCC chooses (and, practically speaking, only the cable industry is in position to implement their "tuning resolver" thing without FCC approval) that entity will risk wasting a lot of money. I suppose that it's a gamble that they might take, since they need to move forward with the deployment of SDV (satellite is adding several new HD channels every week now) and implementing the tuning resolver makes it look like they give a damn about the CEA's concerns.
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:18 AM   #479
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Whether they initially choose to act without mandate, it is likely that they will get a mandate in one direction or another.
And perhaps, just as with other things, that mandate will (1) come too late to make any difference; (2) be worded so vaguely so as to allow them to do practically whatever they want anyway; (3) end up prompting them to do things that make our lives, as viewers, worse than if the mandate was never put in place; (4) any or all of the above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyts
Although I suppose that it's possible that the FCC will respond with, "Okay, UDCR, a system that you created under heavy pressure from the FCC, is being rendered nearly useless; we're okay with that--nothing needs to be done," I strongly doubt that this will be their response.
That totally and completely ignores what we're talking about here: The voluntary actions of the industry to work this issue out themselves. THAT does change the dynamic. Completely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeyts
If someone goes ahead and tries to implement one of them before the FCC chooses (and, practically speaking, only the cable industry is in position to implement their "tuning resolver" thing without FCC approval) that entity will risk wasting a lot of money.
I doubt that. Even in a trigger-happy regulation environment (which is not the case with the current administration), government is reticent to butt its nose in when industry has resolved the problem itself. And let's remember the problem the regulations are intended to address: access -- NOT cost.
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Old 10-14-2007, 09:46 AM   #480
mikeyts
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 2,121
First, we wouldn't be having this discussion if it weren't for the regulatory efforts of the FCC. TiVo S3 and TiVo HD would not exist because CableCARDs would not exist. The cable industry had no intention of attempting to devise a non-proprietary system for conditional access. They did it in response to an FCC mandate.

Your own posts state why we need for the solution (whatever form it takes) to be regulated. You keep saying over and over again "no guarantees", and you're right--without FCC regulation we have no guarantees, and neither does TiVo or any of the OEMs. Without an FCC requirement to provide and support CableCARDs, I'd wager that few or none of the cable providers would provide and support them. Without regulations requiring it, few or none of them will support this tuning resolver solution either.
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