FCC wants more set top box options for consumers

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by gigaguy, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. Feb 4, 2016 #81 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    There were a few things that led to the death of CableCARD TVs. First was price and poor communication. When they came out they typically had about a $200 price premium compared to the same model without the CableCARD slot. The cable companies would also commonly spread misinformation about the cards and provided a very, very, poor installation experience. That alone pushed most of the TVs out of the market. Then came SDV and all the TVs already out there became useless. IIRC Time Warner moved all their premium channels to SDV first so they could basically tell owners of CableCARD devices that the standard did not support premium channels. TiVo is the one who fought back and got them to create the Tuning Adapter so that they could access SDV channels. But by that time it was too late. CableCARD TVs were already on the way out and even those that were left decided that adding a USB port and requiring people to have an external box anyway wasn't going to work for the intended purpose and abandoned the standard. For a couple of years only TiVo and a single tuner external box for HTPCs supported CableCARDs at all. Then Silicone Dust and Ceton came along with their offerings and vitalized the HTPC market briefly. But MS screwed them over when they stopped updating MCE and eventually discontinued it. Now we're essentially back to TiVo and maybe the Silicone Dust DVR if it ever makes it out of beta.
     
  2. Feb 4, 2016 #82 of 122
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Next you'll be telling me that the AT&T breakup was wrong and we should have all kept renting phones from them because of course Ma Bell knew what was best for us.

    It's not about whether it's a utility, its about whether an entire industry can force the use of their equipment to access the network.
     
  3. Feb 4, 2016 #83 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    It's more like a price fixing issue. With TV, compared to Ma Bell, you do (usually) have a few choices but all of those choices have the same business model where you have to lease equipment with a reoccurring monthly fee to access their service. So no matter which service you choose you're essentially in the same boat. The FCC was grated regulatory power over these MVPDs and they're attempting to use that power to change this practice.

    Unfortunately the technologies involved here are vastly more complex then simply allowing 3rd party telephones to access the phone network, so it's a much harder thing to do.
     
  4. Feb 8, 2016 #84 of 122
    irisr

    irisr Member

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  5. Feb 8, 2016 #85 of 122
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Telephone service, as mentioned in the editorial as an example, never had any copyright problems with content provided by the telephone co.s. as cable programs have.
     
  6. Feb 8, 2016 #86 of 122
    Brad Bishop

    Brad Bishop Member

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    Regarding the new regulations: I don't see them "fixing" it any better than they did 20 years ago.

    I really hate the use of government force. I'd rather watch the company wither on the vine as people look elsewhere for entertainment (and the company, sadly, learns nothing).

    If, however, you were going to use government force to do this, the only way I see it getting done is if there were some law/regulation that said:
    "The provider of services cannot be the supplier of consumer equipment."

    Essentially forcing everyone to buy a new box from some other company and forcing the cable company to play nice because it would now be in their best interest to keep consumers using their service.

    The biggest problem with any of this (using force, that is) is that the company will figure a way to wiggle around the law. They'd just split off sister companies to supply the consumer product while being buddies with them with information on how things work and would not be so forthcoming to external competitors.

    I don't think it's a good idea, it's just the only one where I could see you'd force their hands at it and, even then, it probably wouldn't work and just make things more expensive (see how cable rates were "fixed" by the 1996 Telecommunications Act)
     
  7. Feb 8, 2016 #87 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    Cable is definitely a much more complex business. But there is nothing about opening up the set top box market that would violate copyright. Even VOD would work if they had a strict set of rules. Or make it easier and just use an RUI app for VOD, so the MSO retains control of that part but it's open to all devices and not just the ones they choose.
     
  8. Feb 8, 2016 #88 of 122
    TeamPace

    TeamPace Active Member

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    Interesting discussions. As to whether SDV and cable are now easy to install. Last month I helped friends switch to a TiVo BOLT & mini to replace their Time Warner equipment. It took me about a week, more than 8 hours of time on the phone with TW & TiVo tech support, 3 different tuning adapters, 3 trips to the TW store, and having TiVo replace the BOLT before we got it all working. The friend was very close to giving up and staying with the rented equipment. Not many people want to deal with those hassles even if the end result is a much better system and cost savings. Not 100% sure of the solutions but clearly part of the problem is TW doesn't really have any incentive for you to succeed at replacing their equipment. I suspected that the defective tuning adapters we returned to TW simply went right back on the shelf to be handed out to the next poor sucker who wanted to try and switch to TiVo.
     
  9. Feb 8, 2016 #89 of 122
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Some people have a good experience some, like in your post, do not, it is a risk that most people don't want to take.
     
  10. Feb 8, 2016 #90 of 122
    tvmaster2

    tvmaster2 Well-Known Member

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    My mother in law has Cox Whole Home dvr: one recorder and three satellites. Has had problems since day one, boxes switched out, service calls, missed recordings, stuttering playback, etc.
    My Cox cable card tivo's just keep rolling right along.
    Not so sure I buy the argument some are making that cable cards have been a failure - they sure haven't been for us. But her monopoly-based DVR's: not so great.
     
  11. Feb 9, 2016 #91 of 122
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    More complex sure, but doesn't change the editorial's point (which is completely valid). The tech isn't the issue, control over the eyeballs and revenue is.
     
  12. Feb 9, 2016 #92 of 122
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    That was easy to solve with the opening of telephones that could be purchased at retail, cable with its encryption is another ball game, as I have said before (I am cable card biased) cable cards are a good solution for many people, if there was a market for a 3rd pty cable box using the cable card it would have happened already, the same is true of HDTV (except for the SDV mess with some providers), but you need a good UI and so far TiVo (and maybe a few PC cable card ready tuners) provide that UI, any cable card TiVo without service can provide you with a dumb cable box, but that not want people want, and in many cases the cable card cost almost as much as a non DVR cable box itself.
    I still not sure why we should go through the expanse of any change, (again I am biased as all is working great for me so why fix what not broke) it may not make things any better for the cable co. customer, but it will sure increase the cost to the MSO, and the MSO have all the cable cards they will ever need when their own cable card type boxes are returned.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2016
  13. Feb 11, 2016 #93 of 122
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Yeah, Cablecard has been great for the less than 1% of cable customers benefiting from it, and the few CE manufacturers that went through the hassle and expense of CableLabs cert to provide it to them. Look at all we've accomplished after 10 years of it being out there.

    :rolleyes:
     
  14. Feb 11, 2016 #94 of 122
    i.hardon

    i.hardon New Member

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    I'm not sure what is inherently wrong with the Cablecard that couldn't be improved by forcing action on the "incomplete" bits - like allowing third parties to manufacture two-way capable equipment to an agreed standard, eliminating the need for a tuning adaptor or internet connection to do video on demand.

    The DVB world seems to have managed to create a healthy 3rd party equipment market. Many TVs have DVB-T/T2 and DVB-C/C2 tuners, along with a "common interface" slot that accepts a conditional access module - similar to the cableCARD, and identical in form factor. Usually has a card slot to accept the subscriber's viewing card.

    Unfortunately provider takeup isn't so hot in some countries. I am in the UK, and neither the pay-TV satellite or cable companies allow the use of third party equipment (but, in fairness, they don't charge you to use their own - the cable company owns their set top box, you pay nothing to rent it, and will replace it for free, and the satellite company gives it to you). In the case of the cable company, they offer their own TiVo boxes anyway. Of course DVB-T/T2 works fine (over the air) as the channels aren't encrypted here.

    If you were to use a third party cable or satellite receiver, you can see and tune into the signals, but you just can't watch any encrypted content (and there's a lot of FTA stuff on satellite, like the main BBC/commercial networks and a few others)

    But in other countries it's pretty vibrant. You can plug in your DVB-C/C2 TV into the cable network, DVB-T/T2 TV into an aerial, or DVB-S/S2 box into a dish, insert the CAM (which AFAIK doesn't need to be paired to the TV), let it tune in the channels and away you go.
     
  15. Feb 11, 2016 #95 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    CableCARD is a standard that was designed in the 90s with it's primary objective being the decryption and authorization of linear one way channels. It did not account for two way technologies like VOD or even SDV, which are linear channels that are dynamically assigned a frequency and require two way communication to function. They also turned out to be very difficult to get working resulting in multiple unnecessary tech visits or phone calls to get functioning, causing a very poor user experience. It also only worked with cable, so DSS and IP services are excluded from supporting it.

    The goal of this new law was to develop a "downloadable" security system that would work across all MSO technologies. However due to fundamental differences in the technologies they use it's not as easy as it sounds. The MSOs want an apps approach where they controll the entire UI and experience and the 3rd party device just becomes a dumb box that display's their app. Companies like TiVo and Google want an open API they can use to access and discover the services offered by the MSO so they can present them to the user using their own UI. It seems, at the moment, the FCC is siding with the technology companies and shooting for something using the open API approach. The issue there is that because of the fundamental differences between the technologies used by each MSO this will almost certainly require an extra box, referred to as a gateway, which essentially acts as a man in the middle converting the proprietary technologies used by the MSO into the open standards required by the new system. The concern is that these boxes could prove to be expensive, compared to CableCARD, and provide little to no advantage for existing TiVo users. Espically those that live in Comcast areas whi already have access to VOD and do not require the add-on tuning adapter device to access all their channels.
     
  16. Feb 11, 2016 #96 of 122
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    My point
    :up: plus I doubt any big market exist for 3 pty anything for cable, TiVo being the exception and TiVo not doing that well, so why change, where is the big benefit and who get that benefit if it does exists.
    Lets start the keep the cable card option for the FCC. It has been 100 years or so and we are still using the lead acid battery for almost all cars, if a better solution (cost and usability) does not exists, keep using what works even if it is old, or real old. (Even my hybrid car has a small lead acid battery to provide 12VDC, why ??, when my 260VDC lithium ion battery could have an electronic 12VDC switching power supply do that job, and the lead acid battery can't even be used to start the car engine).
     
  17. Feb 11, 2016 #97 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The whole point of this is to create a market for 3rd party devices. The CE companies believe a market exists if the technology can be improved to relieve the burden of CableCARD setup and allow access to ALL the services the MSOs provide. They could be wrong, but we'll never know if we just stick to what we have now.

    For your piece of mind... there are still millions of CableCARDs deployed inside MSO leased boxes, so even if this new standard comes to pass it will be many years before your current CableCARDs stop working. So it's not like you'll be forced to use this new technology. At least not in the immediate future.
     
  18. Feb 11, 2016 #98 of 122
    lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    Beyond the DVR what product could develop with any new system, that could be used with any MOS system, a TV that had a built in way to get the downloaded security may be one, but how much demand would there be for that, as the cable co could charge you for each TV in your home, and it adds another soft spot to any TV as in, who do you call if the TV cable input stops working, your TV now works with any external source like a DVD player etc. but stops working with the cable direct, the cable tech can't just change out the cable card as the security system is built in. IMHO 99% of people will still use/rent the MSO equipment with its on-sight warranty and free upgrades, I see to much risk with any other way, TiVo proved that by having only small retail DVR market, I don't think the hassle with cable cards is the reason TiVos retail market is small as that cable card hassle only happens when you change TiVos (or get one for the first time) and most people don't have any hassle with a new TiVo, just a quick call to the MSO.
    My mind just can't see where this is going, or could go as IP is different and can be used now without (or with) a TiVo as most smart TVs have Netflix and other apps built in.
     
  19. Feb 11, 2016 #99 of 122
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    TVs with built in support is a good example. Right now if you want to watch cable on any TV you need an external box. That box requires power, a cable running from it to the TV, and a separate remote control. The vast majority of TVs sold these days are already "smart TVs", so they already have a way to run software directly on the TV. With a properly designed system that's all that would be needed. Essentially you'd select the live TV app and your TV would display a built in UI that would allow you to access not just live content but also extended services like VOD. No extra box, no extra remote, no ugly wires you have to try to tuck behind your TV on the wall.
     
  20. lessd

    lessd Well-Known Member

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    And no DVR, how many people would have cable without a DVR today.
     

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