OCAP- Who is capping whom?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Justin Thyme, Jan 13, 2006.

  1. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    3,306
    1
    Mar 29, 2005

    Advertisements

    So this thread looks like it is winding down, so I'd like to offer some parting comments.

    A lot of folks have been stating- Gee, no Cablecard 2.0 support, I think I want to wait until that comes along... Well all I have to say is you need to know what Cablecard 2.0 is before you say that, and if it is taken the way the cable companies wrote it, you will lose a lot of functionality. Much of this is due to OCAP. Others think OCAP is a good thing because it is like Java, or like Europe's MHP upon which it was based. This is false. Here's how the engineering site for MHP, OCAP and JavaTv describes OCAP:
    Remember, this was written by folks that like OCAP. But is "full control" by the cable operator an exaggeration? Well, whether or not you consider the following OCAP features "OS powers" or not, ask yourself if you want the cable companies to control the following features on your third party box**:
    • Network approval of Applications required: If an application has not been validated by the Network controlled Monitor, it will not be allowed to run. You don’t get to run the apps you want to run.
    • Ability to modify or block User Inputs: Before any other application gets access to the User input, the network controlled monitor app may modify it. Keys may be remapped or entirely disabled. Cannot be overriden. You like your FF key?
    • Network controlled Copy Protection: The monitor master application can use the org.ocap.hardware.CopyControl class to enable or disable analog copy protection schemes such as Macrovision. Using the same interface, it can also enable or disable down-conversion of high-definition services to standard definition. Cannot be overriden.
    • Network controlled Reboot. Hey- you didn't really want to record that anyway.
    • Forced download of Apps from the network. Deletion of user applications is permitted.
    • Network control of Flash memory: The network controlled Monitor master application may erase any data stored in flash memory. If the local cableco doesn’t like what’s another app has in flash memory, it’s gone.
    Is this TV our way? Or the cableco's way?

    Is this the product of a regulatory system that is looking out for consumer interests? What if the phone company got to control your third party telephone this way? You think you'd have the features we take for granted or be seeing low long distance rates we do now?

    If after 10 years this is the best the FCC can do to fulfill the mandate of the 1996 Telecom law to see that third party devices can fully access the networks of the carriers, then maybe it is time for a change.

    ** For an more engineering oriented synopsis of the OCAP software architecture, you may find this article very interesting.
     
  2. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    ideal - An honorable or worthy principle or aim
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=ideal

    The perfect / impracticle implication was not intended.
    The FCC issued the following regulation as part of its first report and order on implementing section 629 of the telecom act:
    http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/...cess.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/47cfr76.1205.htm

    Which ... I think could be interpreted as 'make it public'. Of course, FCC orders (like congressional laws) are subject to interpretation / challanges / etc. But 'make it public' was exactly what the FCC was trying to do here.
     
  3. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Did I mention CableCard in my above rambling diatribe? I was getting at the 'software' API ...

    For conditional access ... you can license Powerkey and/or Digicipher directly from Scientific Atlanta (Cisco) and/or Motorola

    If you want to make a CableCard box ... you'd have to:
    1) Sign the DFAST (unidirectional) license, which would prevent you from using cable's return channel (two-way functionality)
    2) Sign the CHILA (bidirectional) license, which would let you use cable's return channel in your own software applications (I think) ... but yes, you'd also have to implement OCAP and the hardware that provided that return channel would ultimately be subject to control by the (cable provided) OCAP resource manager
     
  4. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Let's go the other way and look at what the FCC actually did ... to see how we got to where we are today ... and see where we might be going.

    In 1998, the FCC issued a bunch of orders related to implementing the 1996 Telecom Act. Yes, their orders are just as subject to interpretation as laws ...

    No 'arbitration of standards' ... no getting in to details ... a bunch of orders which would seem to hit the highlights ...

    I mentioned 76.1205 above ... seems to meet an interpretation of 'make it public'. I would note that (AFAIK) no one has challanged / accused any system operator of failing to meet this.

    You can take a look at the full report / order by going here:
    http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi

    And searching for DA/FCC Number (field 2) 98-116

    The exact regs passed in 1998 were:

    1201 Rights of subscribers to use or attach navigation devices
    1202 Availability of navigation devices
    1203 Incidence of harm
    1204 Availability of equipment performing conditional access or security functions
    1205 Availability of interface information
    1206 Equipment sale or lease charge subsidy prohibition
    1207 Waivers.
    1208 Sunset of regulations.
    1209 Theft of service
    1210 Effect on other rules

    Now, these regs would seem to hit alot the highlights. No specific standards. No one trying to make, sell or attach a navigation device has (directly) accused any cable company of violating any of these.

    This is what I was getting at when I said "well, the FCC has already done alot of what you suggested" ...
     
  5. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...

    Advertisements

    "Available" is a good way to describe it. IMO, available ... yes.

    "Public" gets into a sticky issue.

    If Comcast is using a proprietary API from another unafiliated vendor ... Comcast can give you information about that API (Concurrent Mediahawk x.xx), but Comcast can't legally give out any Concurrent proprietary information (protected by patent / copyright). If Concurrant copyrights their APIs and charges others to use them ... Comcast can't turn around and make that "public". Comcast's vendors like "product-tying" and "fiefdoms" just as much as other companies.

    Ok, so tying this back to what the FCC actually did:
    The FCC said that Comcast can NOT prevent availability of navigation devices via contract, agreement, patent right, etc ...

    Comcast CAN use proprietary technology from an unaffiliated third party. Unaffiliated is the key. Comcast can use proprietary technology from Concurrant. But they can't by contract, agreement, etc. prevent Concurrant from making this available to others. It's up to Concurrant to decide whether or not to make it available to others. Whether to make it public or not. Whether to charge license fees or not. Let the free market reign ...

    About the "conditional access or security functions" ...

    That's another big part of the FCC's orders. They seperated out the "navigation device" and the "security functions". Comcast can't by contract, agreement, patent right, etc. control the "navigation device". However, they can control the "security functions".
     
  6. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    3,306
    1
    Mar 29, 2005
    Very interesting indeed.

    These regs come under the heading "MULTICHANNEL VIDEO AND CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE".

    That appears to include non cable. Does that mean that DBS has to follow these regs, or did DBS get a waiver for these regs as well?

    Tivo for example has a contract running out in 2007 with DirecTv. Tivo knows very well how to build a DTivo, and an HDTivo with Mpeg4 support. For the DTivo they can use the existing design. I presumed Direct could block this sort of thing, but that's not what one of your regs states:
    So excepting any contractual agreements made, does that mean DirecTv cannot legally prevent Tivo from shipping DirecTivo models to compete with their R15?
     
  7. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    As noted on other threads ...

    Yes, the regs apply to dbs.

    Edit:

    Incorrect - But yes, for various reasons ... DBS got a waiver (for this particular reg).

    Correct - No, the only reg dbs got a waiver for is Sec. 76.1204 (Availability of equipment performing conditional access or security functions)
     
  8. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    3,306
    1
    Mar 29, 2005
    Oh for cripesake- the Act states waivers are only supposed to be temporary for the period of time necessary to enable some new technology.

    Would Tivo have a reasonable chance of succeeding in petitioning the Waiver to be lifted, (pointing to the 10 year elapsed time), or does that have an iceberg's chance in hell of succeeding?
     
  9. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    But the end result is the same.

    I know D* equipment has an 'access card'. But, in their design most of the actual 'conditional access' and 'security functions' aren't part of the card. They are still integrated with the box.

    76.1204 is the part that calls for that seperation of "navigation device" AND "security device" AND calls for MVPDs to provide a seperable "security device".

    DBS is expempted from this ... and their current designs don't follow it either. They still control that integrated "security device" inside the box.
     
  10. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Like I said on another thread ... I dunno. They might. They might not. They'd have a greater chance if joined by others (like other CE companies and maybe even cable and Verizon that would like to see their competitors subjected to the same regs).

    If they DO challange they risk the chance of having the FCC explicitly extend the waiver ...

    Then again, the FCC MIGHT sunset the waiver ...

    The risk of which gives you leverage if trying to negotiate a deal with D* and E* ... even without explictly bringing a challange to the FCC ...
     
  11. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    So D* can still control the security device inside the box by "contract, agreement, patent right, intellectual property right or otherwise". I guess ... if somehow ... the existing contract allowed Tivo to design a new box and still fall under their existing contract ... yes, they could design a new box. But I would imagine the existing contracts explicitly state "Tivo shall make ______" and precludes anything else.

    Then again ... that's not really FCC related ... just standard contract-related law.
     
  12. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Gah ... wrong again.

    Correct - Certain examptions (not temporary waivers) were built in to Sec. 76.1204 (Availability of equipment performing conditional access or security functions) which DBS at the time (potentially) met.
    http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/...cess.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/47cfr76.1204.htm
    Same comments above apply as to success of challanging (I dunno) and risk / benefit (some of each).

    There'd be another option which would be to challange in court (either the FCC for not fulfilling Congressional law or an MVPD for not meeting FCC regs).

    Same comments above apply as to success of challanging (I dunno) and risk / benefit (some of each).

    And THAT was the part I had the most problems with ... the unaffiliated part. Does D* currently meet that part? I dunno ... I don't think they do ... but I can see arguments that they do. You'd really have to go through their contracts with manufacturers to know that (for sure) ... which I don't have access to.

    Then again, does every possible type of 'navigation device' have to be available from an unaffiliated source ... or just some types? Can D* open up the reciever marked and keep the DVR market for themselves? And again, I can see arguments both ways (as we noted earlier ... subject to interpretation).

    As to whether or not the examption should be there in the first place ... again, I can see arguments both ways. You would think that an MVPD that meet the two conditions above would pretty much have a thriving third party market ...

    After all, even if they attach "onerous conditions" or "very bad things" to unaffiliated third parties ... well, if someone somewhere is willing to sign the contracts and make navigation devices and they exist in the marketplace ... well, the conditions can't be too bad. If no one was willing to accept the "third party" conditions in the first place ... there wouldn't be any third party devices. They only devices would be from "affiliated" sources which would contradict with the exemption and ... bam.

    If the only condition was a "license fee" for example. If D* charged a $1 billion per STB license fee ... no one would accept it. They'd have to make all their own devices. OTOH, if they charged $1 ... everyone would. But, somewhere in between there's a free-market acceptable number that the market will bear ...

    But, if someone is willing to pay higher-than-market rates for an "exclusive" deal ... or the (unseen, non-public) contracts have some semblances of "affiliation / control" ...

    So ... anyway:
    1) Unafilliated sources
    2) All types of navigation devices or just some types
    3) Whether the examption should have been there or not in the first place

    I can see argumens either way on any of those points ... I dunno whether challanging any of those points would succeed (maybe, maybe not) ... and I see benefits AND rists to challanging any of those points. I think that's what I actually came to on the other thread(s). How's that for definitive? And you wonder why we have a court system to interpret these oh-so-obvious laws ... or why sometimes it's good to let the parties involved come to their own deals and let the free market figure things out ...
     
  13. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    3,306
    1
    Mar 29, 2005
    OK. A lot to chew on there and a separate subject that I'm going to have to reflect and investigate more about but before returning to OCAP implications, I note you continually refer to DirecTv possibly not complying any longer due to NDS, but you do not refer to Dish Network. I thought all the STBs were controlled by echostar or affiliates, so isn't Dish in the same boat as DirecTv regarding questions on whether there are navigation boxes available from unaffiliated third party sources?
     
  14. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    I don't follow E* as closely. But yes, same general principals would apply.

    Note that "affiliated" doesn't just mean someone you have a deal with ... or a contract with ...

    It means some sort of direct control. You own them ... they own you. You have a member on their board ... they have a member on yours. Etc. There's some legal definition on the FCC site and in various Congressional laws ... but it's pretty much just direct control ...

    The tricky part gets to some of those contracts. If D* buys 250,000 boxes from Humax and sells them to Best Buy ... well you're buying the box from D* not an unafilliated source. OTOH, if D* licenses Humax to build 250,000 boxes but requires them to sell them to Best Buy for $X ... or you could picture 100 other ways a contract could be structured ... Well then, I haven't a clue.
     
  15. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Better source for first report and order (one searchable "text" pdf instead of three "image" pdfs)
    http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/Orders/1998/fcc98116.pdf

    But anyway, my own paraphrase of the 1998 order is:
    - Right to attach (or build) "navigation devices"
    - No MVPD can "prevent" "navigation devices" via contract, patents, IP, etc.
    - However, "navigation device" and "security function" are different / seperate
    - MVPD can control the "security function" via contract, patents, IP, etc.
    - However, MVPD can only control the "security function" to the point of "inten(t) or function to defeat the conditional access controls of such devices or to provide unauthorized access to service"
    - Ie, they can't use their ability to control the "security function" to control the "navigation device"
    - MVPDs must provide a seperate "security device" ... ie, POD ... upon request by July 1, 2000
    - MVPDs must rely on this POD themselves for new equipment by January 1, 2005
    - MVPDs must provide "technical information concerning interface parameters" upon request

    A very "make it available and they will build it" approach. No "arbitration of standards" ... we have to wait untill 2003-2004 for that. I honestly can't think of (much) that I would have done differently.

    Ok, perhaps they shouldn't have included the nationwide / already availalble exception. But ... well Congress DID tell them to sunset the regulations once a competitive market was established so you have to at least start thinking about that and what that meant. Plus DBS was what ... 4 years old with 4 million subs ... not sure if ordering them to redesign their boxes in two years would have seemed prudent. There was finally some competition in MVPDs ... not sure anyone wanted to squash that for competition of STBs ...

    Perhaps they should have defined "navigation device" better ... as noted in the order it's a bit of an open issue (Guide software and guide data vs. boxes and MPEG2 streams).

    Perhaps they should have defined "cable service" a little better ... it's a point of contention between the CEA and CableLabs right now ...

    Heck, alot of people saw that first report and order and thought we'd have cable boxes at Circuit City by 2000. 1996 Telecom Act ... 1998 FCC Order (in the midst of implementing everything else in the Act like Open Video Systems which went nowhere and ILEC/CLEC reform which has been embroiled in the courts ever since) ... 2000 implementation ...

    Of course, CableCard boxes on the shelves didn't happen in 2000 (01, 02, 03, 04). But ... it didn't happen because anyone failed to do anything ordered by the FCC. Or at least ... no one failed to do anything that anyone else complianed too loudly about. Cable actually DID have a POD standard by July 1, 2000. Interface parameters were "available". They even said they would provide PODS to anyone who asked for one. Of course ... no one did.

    Hindsight is 20/20 but ... I can't think of (much) I would have done differently (then).
     
  16. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Thanks for the link to the article ... because the paragraph directly before the one you quoted expresses something I've been trying to verbalize ...
    The "full control" by the cable company ... the "OS Powers" ...

    These come from very specific parts of the OCAP spec (and the CHILA license) ...

    This is exactly what the CEA is trying to get changed.

    The "full control" and "OS Powers" are not inherent in OCAP simply because it provides an environment where applications from the cable company can be downloaded and run ...

    It's because of some specifics in the form of monitor applications (and resource management). And of course ... licensing.

    And it's these specific things ... for those specific reasons ... that the CEA is trying to change (and the back and forth at the FCC are only one very small part of this attempt).

    They are not trying to scrap OCAP altogether. They aren't trying to scrap the entire idea of downloading and running various applications from the cable company. They aren't even adverse to certain functionality / content from the cable company only being accessable via downloading and running an application (although yes, there are some things they'd like better, more standardized access too) ... because these large / big / general things alone do not provide for the "full control" and "OS Powers".

    It's a few very specific details ...
     
  17. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Also, keep in mind ... as I pointed out in this post ... the FCC's integration ban is (again) being challanged in court. Although it's not the DBS exception that's specifically being challanged ... it's the entire integration ban. So ... could make the question moot.

    FCC notice http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6518150885
    NCTA brief http://www.ncta.com/pdf_files/Final_STB_Brief.pdf

    Now, one of the challanges in the NCTA petition IS the DBS exception. So, if the court rules that the integration ban has to be lifted because the DBS exception is 'arbitrary' ... the FCC would have to decide whether or not to re-instate the ban (and presumably if they did, it would be without the DBS exception). However, if the ban is overturned on any of the other challanges ... the question would be moot.

    OTOH, if the court denies the petition ... everything stays as it is.
     
  18. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

    2,013
    0
    Jul 31, 2003
    Northern...
    Actually ... I think I jumped too quickly on the POD / Card / whatever issue ...

    No ... looking at the FCC regs ... I don't think DirecTV can legally prevent Tivo from shipping DirecTivo models to compete with the R15.

    If Tivo wants to keep making boxes ... they can keep making boxes.

    In fact, the agreement that expires in 2007 ... they keep referring to it as a "marketing agreement" ... it's not a technical agreement ... a licensing agreement ... whatever ... it's a "marketing agreement".

    So Tivo can make a box ... but ... D* can make their boxes and offer them free (with an x month commitment). A Tivo box however ... you gotta pay full price (to Tivo unless Tivo is willing to loose $$$). D* offers tech support on their box ... but for the Tivo box, beyond telling you how to connect the coax ... they can tell you to call Tivo. D* can start using MPEG5 or VC-1 or whatever else they want to tommorrow. With their box ... you get upset at them and ask what they'll do for a replacement. With the Tivo box ... you do the same to Tivo. D* can push software updates and whatever else they want down to their box via their network (big cost savings). With a Tivo box ... the only way to get things that aren't broadcast to everyone via sattelite (like a software update) to the box is via phone / ethernet (a more expensive way to do so). There's probably some other factors that come in to play too ...

    So yes, Tivo can make a box.

    Can they make it in a way to truly be competitive? Can they make it in a way that enough people will choose it over D*'s box to make it worthwhile?

    That's what the POD / integrated security ban is in there for. Providing PODs isn't neccesary to make a box. The other FCC rules take care of that. The PODs / integrated security ban is in there to try to level things out and make it possible for third parties to be more competitive ...

    Interesting triangle.
     
  19. HDTiVo

    HDTiVo Not so Senior Member

    5,556
    0
    Nov 27, 2002
    I put this up because of all the discussion of iPOD and digital music sales and particularly the point highlighted in the article about proprietary systems hampering future growth. These do not lead to optimal markets.

    It should be in the content providers' interest to see a uniform standard. This applies to cable/other TV distribution as well. That's how they can sell or rent the most content for the most revenue. However, in cable, there is substantial cross ownership between cable systems and cable channels, so just how much of an ally can the content providers be in this circumstance?


    http://finance.lycos.com/home/news/story.asp?story=54858407

    HOT OFF THE WIRE PORTFOLIO NEWS - from Lycos Finance


    (NASDAQ:AAPL) Apple Computer, Inc.


    Group: Music Sales Via Net Top $1B in 2005
    - Jan 19, 2006 12:53 PM (AP Online)
    - http://finance.lycos.com/home/news/story.asp?story=54858407



    ===========================================================================


    By JANE WARDELL AP Business Writer



    LONDON (AP) -- Worldwide sales of music via the Internet and mobile phones hit $1.1 billion last year, almost triple 2004 sales and accounting for 6 percent of global record companies' revenues, an industry group said Thursday.



    The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, said the legitimate music business was gradually gaining ground on digital piracy. It said research showed that in Europe's two biggest digital markets _ Britain and Germany _ more music fans are now legally downloading music than illegally file-swapping.



    "2005 was the year that the digital music market took shape," said IFPI Chairman John Kennedy.



    Another big success story was sales of mobile-phone ring tones, which now account for around 40 percent of record companies' digital revenues, Kennedy said.



    "In the cellular or mobile world, there is a culture of payment" that didn't exist in the early days of the Internet, said Adam Klein, EMI Group PLC's executive vice president for strategy.



    In the case of Internet downloads, Kennedy said a series of court judgments against unauthorized file-sharers in 2005, including Kazaa and Grokster, had helped transform the digital music market.



    Kennedy also put Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, on notice that the IFPI would consider litigation against them if they did not join the fight against piracy. Kennedy said he approached prominent ISPs a year ago about a coordinated response and has received "effectively a zero response."



    A series of lawsuits against piracy by the IFPI have so far largely targeted individual song swappers for breach of copyright rather than ISPs, which can claim they have no knowledge of piracy occurring on their networks.



    The London-based IFPI said music fans around the globe downloaded 420 million single tracks in 2005, more than double the 156 million downloaded the previous year, when record companies' revenues from downloads were $380 million.



    In the United States alone, single-track downloads doubled year-on-year to 353 million units in 2005, the IPFI said. Album downloads rose to 16 million and accounted for nearly 3 percent of the total U.S. album market.



    In Europe, the United Kingdom led the way with 26 million single-track downloads, followed by Germany (21 million) and France (15 million).



    However, Kennedy warned that a lack of "interoperability" of different portable music devices and download systems was hampering future growth in the digital music market. Industry leader Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod portable player and iTunes download system use different technology than other devices.

    Industry forecasts for future digital growth vary. Some analysts suggest that 25 percent of record company revenue could come from digital sales by 2010, others put the figure at less than 10 percent.
     
  20. Justin Thyme

    Justin Thyme Contra sceleris

    3,306
    1
    Mar 29, 2005
    If true that would be very good news. I understand your skepticism about going head to head with R15 since NDS will probably incrementally MeToo Tivo. But Tivo can and will go places NDS will refuse to go. Looking at the broadcom chips, it looks like Tivo can add DirectTv demodulation to the S3 architecture at a cost of a 25 buck chip** Would DirecTv sell a box that allowed you to access content from both the internet and cable companies? The best DBS and cablecos can do is subsidize their boxes and make the pitch that it is cheaper to buy from a single vendor.

    Or would such S3 multi carrier support of DirecTv not be permissible (moving DirecTivo security access code to a new chip). I thought the carrier can block a third party on anything having to do with the security functions- using patents or impossible pricing on licensing- What happenned to that roadblock? I thought you were a software engineer- you obviously know your way around the regulatory environment, but I am curious- do you have some background in law as well?

    **The BCM4501 dual satellite reciever on a chip.
     

Share This Page

spam firewall

Advertisements