FCC proposes to unlock set top boxes

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Programming' started by Pepe Sylvia, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. Pepe Sylvia

    Pepe Sylvia Legend

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  2. JoeTheDragon

    JoeTheDragon Hall Of Fame

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    Multichannel Video Programming Distributor can just force you rent there gateway and change a pre stream, tv or tuner fee.
     
  3. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Yes, yet maybe not. Right now they charge for every set top box. So if you have 6 rooms, you pay for all of them all the time. What if now they charge you only for the simultaneous usage: only 3 on at a time? Or maybe only 2 on at a time?

    And competition might drive some innovation finally. Both on features and pricing.

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  4. AntAltMike

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    When cable got partially reregulated in 1992 or 1993, the tradeoff was, the cable companies could keep exclusive ownership of the boxes, in exchange for which, their rental rates would be regulated. It was at that time that cable box rental rates went from big "round" numbers i.e. $3.95 or $4.95/month, to small awkward numbers like $1.73/month. Back then, there were no premium boxes to speak of, other than the uncommon models that had A/V output jacks. Back then, most scrambling technology was primitive and the cable companies could reasonably be concerned that boxes could readily be hacked to bypass controlled authorization... and in fact, many that were brought in from Canada were hacked. You could order boxes to defeat video inversion and sync suppressed scrambling off the pages of Popular Electronics and Electronics Now for $150 each.

    But back then, cable was a monopoly, as the only competition was from big dish satellite and some fledgling microwave services. Also, there was no "overbuilding", as the cable franchises were monopolies. And scrambling became digitized, so the only so-called "hacking" that gets done these days that I know of is when an employee of a company that developed the descrambler misappropriates some security code knowledge. I have never heard of anyone figuring out on his own how to "crack" a digital decoder box.

    In my county of Maryland, Prince Georges, there is still a franchise contractual term the cable companies have to honor that they will allow each residential customer one free box that can tune the basic programming tier, and I have that box, but the franchise agreement did not prevent the cable company from deliberately disabling most of the useful features in the box. When I press the "info" button, all the info it gives me is the channel number; when I try to surf, it lands on every unsubscribed channel along the way and there is no way to delete them from the scan, and there is no guide channel. The box can get me SAP audio, closed captioning, last channel recall and parental control, but that is it.

    I have to side with the program providers on this one. If I don't like their subscription terms, then I can shop around and try to get better terms elsewhere.
     
  5. CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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    I'd love it if you could use the latest game consoles, PC or HDTV with a DTV app. The XBOX One also has its own progam guide. Maybe DTV would let you use that and record shows to its hard drive?
     
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  6. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    We used to pay monthly fees for each phone in the house. We used to pay monthly modem rental fees for internet. We never had to pay monthly fees for TVs or VCRs. Then the FCC made it possible to ditch the monthly fees for phones and modems. Why do you wish to stick to the old pay per month model?

    Because of competition, TVs are $200 and VCRS dropped down to $40 before they died. Imagine where DVRs would be if we could buy any DVR from Sony, samsung, LG, Vizio? Want PIP in that DVR, spend $100. Want streaming, buy Roku's new DVR/streaming puck. Lets see some real competition. :)

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  7. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    You've nailed it. That is the stated goal from the FCC. Why have Roku, Xbox, DIRECTV, Blue-Ray boxes at each TV? Let one box do it all.

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  8. CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, it also would cut down on energy use. However would it put it more wear and tear just using one box? I guess they could also still charge a TV fee but maybe customers wouldn't mind paying the TV fee if they could use their own device? Or maybe they first DTV app would be free and after that each addition one would cost?
     
  9. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    When a VCR was $40 each, we didn't care if it died every year. :) With competition, I expect the prices of DVRs to be as low as Roku or Amazon Fire pucks. Add a $60 external hard drive and you have a fantastic DVR with no monthly fees. :)

    Then watch disk prices fall again... :)

    Besides, an XBox is geared for high usage anyway. So many serious gamers run their systems round the clock for days at a time. Shouldn't be a problem. :)

    As for pricing...

    My guess is MVPDs will end up charging by the simultaneous tuner or stream in use. Much like Netflix where you can pay one fee for 1 stream, more for 2, etc. until you get unlimited simultaneous streams. :)

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  10. CraigerM

    CraigerM Well-Known Member

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    Good to know about the XBOX One, since I have one. I guess the way they would hook up to one of those devices would be using the DECA Adapter right? That would also provide the internet connection with Ethernet instead of WIFI?
     
  11. AntAltMike

    AntAltMike Hall Of Fame

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    I don't shop around much for phones - in fact, until recently, the phone I was using couldn't even send text messages - but as far as I know, telephone companies can have monopolies on the phones that work in their systems. I'm not saying I like having the TV program providers have such a monopoly is good for me or good for society, but I don't see what gives the FCC the right to say otherwise, unless they can make some kind of case of collusion.
     
  12. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    You'll have several choices, which ever works best for your situation. :)

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  13. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Have we already forgotten land-line phones? We used to pay monthly fees for them--until the FCC said otherwise. :)

    As what empowers the FCC? Congress. Cable companies exist as monopolies within the framework of the FCC regulations as provided by the laws to ensure they abide by standards. :)

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  14. NR4P

    NR4P Dad

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    Many cable providers let one use a purchased modem. Time to let us pick our own STB's.
    However with Directv you pay the same fee with their box or an RVU TV.
    Not sure this is going to save any consumer any money. Or will it?
     
  15. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    That would be fine, if there were competition. There is not. I have one and only one choice if I want to subscribe to a wide variety of broadcast TV - my local cable company. Neither Dish nor Directv is an option for me because of the huge oak trees in my yard(and my neighbor's even if I cut mine all down) My telco doesn't offer TV service.

    Where the market has failed to provide competitive markets - or especially in the case of cable where government is responsible for the lack of competitive markets (via franchise agreements that mean only one choice for cable TV in most cities) then the government should act to minimize the harm that lack of competition causes.

    They can't force them to lower their prices, or offer me a package with only the channels I want, or to upgrade the channels I watch to HD, or whatever. They can force them to improve the delivery method so they can't rip people off with their monthly fees on equipment. That was the reason they mandated TVs be "cable ready", but when cable went digital those analog tuners became useless. So they mandated TVs have QAM tuners but cable encrypted the digital channels those also became useless.

    How they can claim with a straight face it will raise prices is ludicrous. They just don't want to lose the ability to gather all that information on what people are watching on their DVRs, and when, that they sell to the networks. And the ads they insert in the guides. And the PPV/VOD programming that they push via their hardware lock-in.

    I can't believe someone is actually defending this crap!

    Just to give you an idea how cable companies operate, a regional fiber internet provider announced it was considering coming to the city where I live. Everyone was excited, because you have a choice between our local cable company and our local telco (who at least offers some pretty high speed DSL) who just happen to have very similar pricing unless you bundle or get a intro discount that expires quickly. After their study they signed an agreement with the city to connect to the city owned fiber backbone, and get right of way access for running their fiber. The cable company immediately sued, claiming unfair competition because they had to sign a franchise agreement and pay a franchise fee (which they recover in our monthly bills, so it is really us customers who pay it) Nevermind that the franchise fee covers TV, and this company, while it delivers TV in some markets, is only planning to offer internet at this time. They know they will lose the lawsuit, but they know they will delay the rollout of fiber by months at least - perhaps years if they are lucky.

    These are the crooks you are defending.

    The funny thing is that I know a guy on the city's telecommunications board and they had already decided they will not be renewing the cable company's franchise. They will be free to continue to operate in town, of course, and won't have to pay the franchise fee any longer (but I wonder if it will get removed from my bill) But they will have to face competition, if another cable company comes along that wants to compete, or this fiber upstart wants to sell TV service. I'm sure they will scream bloody murder when they find that out :)
     
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  16. Tom Robertson

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    I think it will save in the long run. Today DIRECTV competes against cable but less on the price per "device." With these rules all cable companies will compete for per device fees. At least I think so.

    The other savings is slower increase in prices. If DIRECTV doesn't pay for as many boxes, I think they won't have to increase as fast as they would have. Or something like that.

    Peace,
    Tom
     
  17. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Directv already recovers the cost for the boxes via the monthly fees. They can call them whatever they like, they are essentially lease fees.

    Where it will benefit for pricing is by allowing people to switch providers more easily. If you have a Tivo or whatever as your DVR, along with your own tiny/cheap client devices at each TV (and eventually TVs will have the client built in of course) you could use it with cable, then switch to Directv, then switch to Dish and keep all the same hardware. Only the gateway that feeds IP streams to the Tivo would change. Don't like Tivo? That's fine, there will be many options before long, and most of them will be infinitely better than what the cable/satellite people are trying to give you. Those guys are terrible at software, and not all that great at hardware. I trust Silicon Valley to come up with something way better in a year than El Segundo could come up with in a decade.

    The fear of the MVPDs, and the reason consumers should love this, is that it makes it SO easy to switch providers. You don't have to learn a new interface, or lose the recordings you made on your old provider just because you switched. The only hold they'd have over you is if you had to / chose to sign a contract to begin service. You would hardly notice you switched from Directv to Dish, other than the reduced video quality and different channel numbering.
     
  18. Tom Robertson

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    They aren't lease fees. They are called that, for accounting purposes, yet since my Samsung TV costs the same as DIRECTV's leased receiver as my owned receiver, it really is a license fee for access to content.

    As DIRECTV spends less on the boxes their margin goes up. At some point, they can afford to more slowly increase prices because they are only paying license fees, not both license fees and box costs. (In theory.) :)
     
  19. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    No, it is not a "license fee", because networks don't charge MVPDs like Directv based on the number of TVs, but rather on the number of households.

    If you don't want to call it a "lease fee", fine, call it a "more profit for us" fee. :)
     
  20. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Gold Club DBSTalk Club

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    "Loss recovery fee".
     

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