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FCC to require All Vid IP video adapters from cable and maybe satellite

Discussion in 'Legislative and Regulatory Issues' started by dvrblogger, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. dvrblogger

    dvrblogger Icon

    Jan 11, 2005
    FCC's 'AllVid' Gateway Would Require Six IP Video Streams
    Regulation Would Apply to All Cable, Satellite and Telco TV Providers
    By Todd Spangler -- Multichanne
    l News, 4/22/2010 1:32:22 PM

    The Federal Communications Commission is looking for feedback on its proposal to require U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV operators to supply all their customers an "AllVid" device or gateway -- capable of delivering as many as six different IP video streams to TVs, DVRs or other equipment in the home -- beginning no later than the end of 2012.

    The commission issued the proposal Wednesday in a "notice of inquiry" seeking input. The FCC is hoping to "spur innovation, draw users to broadband, and change how people perceive and use broadband," by mandating a solution that would work across all multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).

    For now, the FCC is seeking comment on the AllVid concept and does not intend to impose rules immediately. However, the agency has suggested it would require all MVPDs to supply all subscribers with the AllVid solution no later than Dec. 31, 2012, and mandate the use of the interface with their operator-leased set-tops and DVRs as well.

    The cable industry supports the "all-MVPD" solution, in large part because it would put satellite and telco competitors in the same regulatory boat.

    "We applaud the Commission for adopting a Notice of Inquiry that will explore how best to achieve a competitive retail marketplace for devices that can access the video services of all multichannel providers," National Cable & Telecommunications Association president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said. "We are very pleased that the Notice appears to be consistent with the series of consumer principles governing video devices which we have submitted to the Commission, especially in its recognition that the appropriate solution must involve all multichannel video providers."

    The FCC's current CableCard regime, by contrast, applies only to cable operators and Verizon's FiOS TV service, which uses a cable-based video delivery system. The commission said it anticipates that AllVid devices "could over time replace CableCard devices on retail shelves" and is seeking comment on whether the commission should consider eliminating the CableCard rules, and if so, the appropriate date for such a change.

    In its notice of inquiry, the commission suggested two possible AllVid equipment configurations: a small "set-back" device, capable of communicating with one navigation device or TV set and providing at least two simultaneous video streams, to allow for picture-in-picture and to let subscribers watch one program while recording a program on another channel; and a whole-home gateway, capable of providing at least six simultaneous video streams within the home.

    The entire 28-page NOI is available here: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-60A1.pdf.

    The FCC further suggested IP and 100-Mbps Ethernet as the communications protocol and physical-layer interface, respectively, for AllVid. However, the commission also seeks comment "on any other physical connectors (for example, Multimedia over Coaxial Cable (‘MoCA')" that could serve as the link between AllVid adapters and retail navigation devices or whether the FCC would need to mandate a physical layer technology at all.

    For encryption and authentication, the AllVid equipment could use Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator's Digital Transmission Copy Protection over IP specification (DTCP-IP). The FCC noted that the MPAA and CableLabs have both approved DTCP-IP.

    Other functions AllVid may have to perform: a mechanism to communicate the directory of video content available; the ability to facilitate content ordering and billing; and the ability to pass through emergency alert system ("EAS") messages, closed-captioning data and parental-control parameters.

    The FCC said the AllVid adapter may not have to transcode the content, as delivered by the MVPD. The commission is seeking input on whether it should specify video-encoding formats, and, if so, on which audio-visual codecs navigation devices should be required to handle.

    In addition, the commission wondered whether navigation devices in the AllVid system should include over-the-air ATSC tuners. While FCC rules require unidirectional digital cable devices to include an ATSC tuner, the agency asked whether consumers would expect this equipment to receive over-the-air broadcast service as well as whether the commission has the authority to impose such a requirement.

    The FCC also raised questions about the cost for an AllVid adapter and the costs associated with adding compatibility to a TV or third-party DVR.

    "We seek data on consumer purchasing behavior regarding home-entertainment equipment," the commission asked in the NOI. "To what extent are consumers willing to pay for additional functionalities in the equipment they purchase? Would the AllVid concept change the economics of consumer preferences?"
  2. matt

    matt New Member

    Jan 11, 2010
    How does this differ from RVU?
  3. Stuart Sweet

    Stuart Sweet The Shadow Knows!

    Jun 18, 2006
    I think DIRECTV's got this one covered, or at least they will.
  4. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    I'm pretty sure that DECA alone could not meet the requirements.

    They mention multiple MoCA segments which doesn't seem practical with DECA.
  5. Avder

    Avder Hall Of Fame

    Feb 6, 2010
    So, what, the FCC is going to mandate a universal standard for set top boxes sometime in the future or something? Wasnt something like this posted a few weeks ago?
  6. ndole

    ndole Problem Solver

    Aug 26, 2009
    Why is this any of the FCC's business?

    A:It's not.
  7. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

    Nov 13, 2007
    What the FCC is trying to do is separate the TV client, currently in your set-top box and in most cases proprietary to your provider, and the actual content delivery. The idea is that the content is converted at a "gateway" into industry standard streams, so that you can use any compliant set-top/interface device you like.

    For example, a DirecTV whole-home DVR with 6 sat tuners and supporting 6 streaming DNLA-compliant streams would presumably be a compliant gateway. Same with FIOS, Comcast, Dish, or Uverse.

    Just like you could, with analog programming, choose a TiVo, UltimateTV, ReplayTV, etc. set top box and thus choose your interface, in this way you could choose to use the client in your TV, your PS/3, your XBox360, your HTPC, your Roku, your PopcornHour, or whatever box you like. The content would be in a standard format so the interface would be separate, allowing consumers multiple choices.
  8. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

    Apr 23, 2002
    This topic is of general interest and, due to its scope and importance, needs to be moved to a general discussion area.
  9. Jeremy W

    Jeremy W Hall Of Fame

    Jun 19, 2006
    Exactly. That's why this is different than, and IMO ultimately better than RVU. With RVU, the provider is still maintaining control over the experience by exporting their GUI to the clients. With AllVid, the provider is only providing the content. The GUI is up to the client, which could be the provider's or any other company that wants to make one.
  10. Movieman

    Movieman Hall Of Fame

    May 8, 2009
    I think this will probably one of the better FCC decisions and im not a big fan of the FCC.

    It is because consumers are constantly complaining about cost vs options. They are basically going to let us have an opportunity to pick who we want and not spend a lot on equipment. Similar to being able to move GSM phones/CDMA phones between carriers. Just a way to give us more options.

    Yup. Again not a big fan of the FCC but I like their direction on this one. I think there might be a lot of lobbying against this but as it was just posted Directv might have an advantage and maybe even AT&T but I think if they can pull this off we will see prices drop for PayTv services.
  11. evan_s

    evan_s Hall Of Fame

    Mar 3, 2008
    I like the idea. Cable cards were a good first attempt but didn't really do enough to actually make enough of a difference. Basically they are trying to get back to the good old days of analog where you could plug in any box you wanted with what ever features you wanted and get your TV service. Even with cable card that isn't possible because of various things like VOD, SDV, etc. If done will this gateway should allow you all the functionality on what ever device you choose with what ever provider you choose. You might even see good integration of multiple providers.
  12. Skyboss

    Skyboss Icon

    Jan 22, 2004
    That right there would be slick.
  13. tkrandall

    tkrandall Hall Of Fame

    Oct 3, 2003
    While it may sound good to have a common standard that allows the consumer to shop around content providers more easily - is there a real potential for a down side such as adverse impact on innovation (or financial incentive for innovation) that having to hold devices to a common standard might impose? Forcing solutions that could end up imposing unintended or unforeseen limitations would be a concern I have.

    Moreover, the FCC chair seems to have quite a vision for broadband as THE panacea for society, and the indications as to his commitment to achieve this vision and the level of social engineering the FCC is looking to impose to achieve it... well I find it all a bit unnerving. I guess I am just old school.......
  14. Tom Servo

    Tom Servo Icon

    Mar 7, 2007
    I'm wondering how much this magic box is going to cost if it has to decode all these different digital streams. Providers may only use a handful of encoding schemes, but don't they use a lot of different encryption schemes? Seems like that will drive up costs a lot.

    It reminds me of the desire people have to be able to take a phone handset across multiple providers, which means having multiple transceivers for a myriad of frequencies. My (unsubsidized) GSM phone was $500 over four years ago. I can only imagine how big, bulky and expensive it'd be if it had integrated CDMA, TDMA, EV-DO, UMTS, iDEN and I dunno what else included.
  15. bakerfall

    bakerfall Godfather

    Aug 23, 2006
    Actually quite the opposite. The box developers (HTPC, tivo, moxi, etc) will be getting a standard stream regardless of the provider. Satellite, Cable, IPTV, it doesn't matter. They get the stream from the Allvid gateway. The provider needs to make their signal compatible so that once the gateway gets it, it can distribute regardless. This will foster much more innovation and competition in the STB marketplace.

    I'm not sure how they are going to do it, or what it's going to cost. But at the end of the day this is only a positive for the consumers. No more waiting for a directivo or for the HR2X to get a better GUI, or a Media Center tuner that never comes. You can setup whatever solution you want and keep it with you with any provider.

    I think it's an awesome thing and I hope it comes in 2012 and does what it's supposed to.
  16. dsw2112

    dsw2112 Always Searching

    Jun 12, 2009
    Interesting idea until you read the above bolded line. What happens if you need more than 6 streams? If this is the same as limiting a customer to 6 active tuners I think this is far too small...
  17. Jeremy W

    Jeremy W Hall Of Fame

    Jun 19, 2006
    You're getting a little confused here. The "magic box" would be provided by the provider, and would only work with that provider. Just like a normal STB today. The difference is that the "magic box" will output the content in a standard format that can be consumed by many different devices. The "magic boxes" themselves are not meant to be portable between providers.
  18. evan_s

    evan_s Hall Of Fame

    Mar 3, 2008
    I assume the gateway box would be provider specific. The interface that the clients sees need to be standardized but the hardware that provides those can be a proprietary as you want.
  19. Tom Servo

    Tom Servo Icon

    Mar 7, 2007
    Ah, okay I get it now. In that case, I'm all for this. :)
  20. Beerstalker

    Beerstalker Hall Of Fame

    Feb 9, 2009
    Peoria, IL
    Actually, I believe the RVU boxes can be set up to use the GUI that is sent out by the server box, or they can use their own GUI built into the box if that RVU box includes one.

    The D* ones shown at CES did not have their own GUI so they used the one pushed to them from the server box (the HMC30).

    So theoretically you could rent the HMC30 from D* and then buy RVU boxes from Tivo etc. and use the Tivo interface with D* service.

    I have also heard that they are looking at forcing the server boxes to use the same inputs too, so you could buy a Tivo server and use it for D*, E*, or Comcast depending on which access card you put in it. I personally think this would be a big mistake and would either make the server boxes too complicated and expensive, or would stifle innovation by requiring D*, E*, and cable are cooperate and come up with a new standard for sending down the info.

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