Wednesday, October 13, 2010

FCC Meeting Has CableCARD On Agenda Tomorrow - Oct 14

FCC Logo

Thursday brings another FCC meeting with the topic of CableCARD changes.  These meetings tend to be pretty dry to say the least, but if you’re interested in the topic of CableCARD which is near and dear to many a HTPC enthusiasts heart this one might be interesting.

Ceton CableCARD Tuner

As the FCC pushes for a universal gateway device to unify traditional video content with online content they are reviewing some changes to the CableCARD rules where cable operators are required to implement a hardware solution with security into digital set-tops – and for consumer devices such as TiVo and HTPCs.

CableCARD on the FCC Agenda

According to the Agenda, CableCARD will be the third and final topic on their agenda.  Here’s the official agenda description for the CableCARD portion:

SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a third Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration  that will make changes to the FCC’s CableCARD rules to improve the consumer experience with the video navigation devices used with cable services and promote the development of a competitive market for such devices.

The Major, Proposed changes in the FCC mandate include:

  1. Removal of CableLabs certification requirement for Software (currently requires same certification for software as with hardware)
  2. Removal of need for Tuning Adapters – instead use Ethernet port to communicate data to tune those SDV channels
  3. Allow for self install of CableCARD in certain cases

Listen in to FCC Meeting Live

You can follow along during the meeting at FCC’s Live Broadcast which is scheduled to begin at 10:30am Eastern Thursday, October 14th.

SageTV Filings with FCC

It might interest some of you to know that earlier this year SageTV filed their own comments with regards to the CableCARD/Cable Access issue with the FCC.  Here’s the two filings:

January 29, 2010 Letter to FCC from SageTV’s Jeffrey Kardatzke (CTO & Founder, SageTV LLC) and Mike Machado (CEO, SageTV LLC).  This letter outlines a conference call that SageTV participated in discussing “the barriers that SageTV, Tivo, Microsoft and the consumer
electronics industry faces when trying to bring innovative set-top boxes and PC software solutions to the consumer market to access content from various MVPDs.”
  This letter is an interesting read.

February 16, 2010 Letter to FCC from SageTV’s Jeffrey Kardatzke (CTO & Founder, SageTV LLC) and Mike Machado (CEO, SageTV LLC).  This letter is a direct response to the filing by the NCTA (National Cable and Telecommunications Association) putting forth the case for SageTV.

Probably the most interesting (and sad) document to read out of these is the quick response to the FCC from the Cable Industry (NCTA) on February 26, 2010.

In that letter the NCTA says:

“It is important to note that we agree with SageTV that any approaches to the retail
availability of video devices need to encompass all multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) if this market is to succeed.”

Riiight…  And here’s where the NCTA “agrees” again with SageTV and in the same breath brushes off SageTV’s reasoning:

“We also agree with SageTV that such a gateway need not be subject to strict definition by ANSI standards. But the term “gateway” means very different things to different people and those differences are critical. In that regard, SageTV oversimplifies what would be required to deploy a workable gateway solution. “

These letters have all been discussed by the FCC already and SageTV was only one of many who filed responses to the FCC in this regard.  Lots of additional information is available on the FCC website if you search for it.  A few other articles of interest regarding these FCC meetings:

All HTPC and consumer electronics companies including TiVo have some interest in what happens if anything with regards to CableCard.  Much of the talk centers around AllVid, but the ultimate result of all of this talk is up in the air at this point.  My expectations are very low for any really helpful changes but you never know.