Archives For CableCARD

androidtv-guide

During Google’s annual developer conference today, Android TV was formally introduced as the successor to Google TV. As conveyed to me at CES and scooped by GigaOm back in March, Android TV is pretty much what we expected — rather than an Android fork, this more or less features the core Android OS with a simplified leanback UI layered atop. While it remains to be seen if the world needs yet another television-based app platform, Sony, Asus, and others have signed on to produce both set-top boxes and smart TVs.

In Google’s favor, and in the wake of Aereo’s demise, is recruitment of Silicon Dust as an early partner. Via HDHomeRun network tuners, Android TV can access both live over-the-air or cable television programming. In fact, as worded, Google and Silicon Dust may actual expose these hooks to other developers for all sorts of interesting mashups (or DVR?): Continue Reading…

Jun 17

As Verizon declares its FiOS Quantum TV rollout complete, fellow Northern Virginian Ananth Sarathy shares his initial experience with the new whole-home DVR. He’s also kindly agreed to take questions in the comments — perhaps he’ll even be able to explain Verizon’s obtuse pricing.

fios-quantumtv-extender

I’ve had the new Quantum DVR for about a week now. The interface is the familiar FiOS interface that we’re used to, for better or worse. It doesn’t seem to have yet received the recent UI upgrade and is missing a few elements, such as the autotune to HD feature. The boxes do use the same FiOS remotes as before, so I’ve stuck with my existing ones, and didn’t need to program them, which is nice. But I kind of wish they had upgraded to a remote that could control AV system volume as well. Continue Reading…

tivo-evolution-ott-dta2

By way of CableFAX and TiVo VP Tom Elan, we learn TiVo is once again expanding their cable operator offerings:

The other one that’s cool is a hybrid set-top box. It’s essentially combining broadband with DTA technology. By adding broadband you get all of the economic advantages of DTA and the simplicity… but then all the benefits of broadband. So we can bring Netflix down to a low-cost set-top box product. It’s a non-cable card product, so it avoids the cost and complexity of cable cards and yet you get the full power of the TiVo experience and the OTT experience combined with the operator’s linear experience.

It just so happens that we have a few friends at The Cable Show and the esteemed Alan Wolk shot the above photos at the TiVo booth, which we believe could be the referenced box. If so, this wouldn’t be the first time TiVo partnered with Evolution Digital, given a few other cable-centric offerings including the original TiVo DTA. Sadly, this sort of simple, inexpensive solution will never make it onto retail shelves until the industry, with or without the FCC’s encouragement, develops and agrees upon a CableCARD successor.

cablecard

As the story goes, CableCARD support has deteriorated since the FCC inadvertently relaxed the requirement last year. Indeed, Tim Gibbons reached out this weekend regarding his inability to tune Fargo … and ignorance (at best) or deception (worst case) from Time Warner Cable’s first line phone support agent. What makes this especially ironic (or depressing) is Tim’s role in the cable television industry. If the producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm can’t keep his TiVo’s CableCARD going, what hope do the rest of us have?

Beyond public shaming, we currently have a rare and unique opportunity to influence the FCC as they evaluate Big Cable’s push to end CableCARD … without having identified a successor. But you better fire up those word processors post-haste as today, April 21st, is the deadline. Hit this FCC link, click Reply To Comments, and make sure you reference Proceeding Number 14-16. For comparative purposes, you can review previously submitted comments here.

Tim’s TWC transcription follows: Continue Reading…

RCN TiVo Update On The Way

Dave Zatz —  April 12, 2014

rcn-tivo

RCN TiVo rentals are poised to receive an iteration of the (glitchy) TiVo Spring Update. Whereas us retail owners have been receiving version 20.4, RCN TiVo hardware in DC and PA will be pushed 20.8 beginning next week – with their entire footprint expected to upgrade within a month. Both updates focus on under-the-hood improvements and more TiVo “back office” network fault tolerance, resolving open issues and setting the stage for follow-on enhancements expected later this year. Beyond the unseen, RCN customers will soon be able to simultaneously beam VOD content from a hub TiVo DVR to multiple satellite extenders (with a 6-tuner TiVo eventually being made available). Additional visible changes include a more detailed What To Watch Now discovery screen and slightly quicker TiVo Mini tuning. Of course, I still believe the best way to get TiVo is directly thru a cable company like RCN — they’re far more motivated to make sure the install goes smoothly and customers have far more flexibility to return, replace, or upgrade as needed.

TiVo visited with the FCC last week, lamenting the current state of CableCARD and Section 629. And, to reiterate their points, submitted the above letter. While we can’t speak to TiVo’s survey methodology, they report diminished CableCARD support with increased operator-implemented roadblocks – presumably intended to discourage third party set-top usage… such as TiVo and perhaps Samsung, should they stick with it. Some cited examples:

  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 said that self-installation of CableCARDs was not allowed, up from 25 percent in Feb. 2013. (Note that self-installation of CableCARDs is required by 47 C.F.R. § 76.1205(b)(1).)
  • For those retail customers that self-install their CableCARDs, 24 percent would be charged a fee for self-installation, with fees increasing since EchoStar, including a fee as high as $39.95 imposed by two operators.
  • 36 percent of MSO agents surveyed in Dec. 2013 offer their own operator’s DVR on an unsolicited basis to customers requesting CableCARDs for retail devices,up from 26 percent in Feb. 2013

Beyond CableCARD, TiVo wants any successor “to assure the availability of bidirectional video signals to retail devices” put into play… Continue Reading…