Interesting News Out of Cable Land

Towards the end of last week, two very interesting pieces of news came out of the cable industry…

First, I noticed over on TiVo Lovers that CableLabs has approved a new content protection system using traditional IP networking (in addition to the existing Firewire standard). Megazone speculates that TiVo knew this standard was under consideration (heck, they probably helped push for it), thus setting the stage for them to deliver on their Series3/HD TiVoToGo and Multi-room Viewing promises later this year.

Next up… SDV is spreading rapidly, but as many who invested in a high definition TiVo can tell you, this isn’t necessarily a good thing: switched channels free up bandwidth for cable providers, but folks using commercially available CableCARD devices get nada. We’ve heard for months that industry is working on a solution and, via Slashdot, Multichannel News reports:

The NCTA said cable has worked with individual consumer-electronics makers – it cited TiVo – to develop a solution that can provide two-way switched digital video channels to unidirectional digital cable products. This tuning resolver option requires a firmware update and a Universal Serial Bus 2.0 device.

This is potentially very good news and I’m impressed that it’s been proposed without the FCC dropping the hammer. Of course, it remains to be seen how quick something like this can make it to market (both hardware and software) and at what price. From where I’m sitting, the cable companies should underwrite the hardware and provide boxes to any customer in need.

6 thoughts on “Interesting News Out of Cable Land”

  1. Guess that is why an SDV article appeared on Wikipedia in January. Just in time. Yeah. I did that.

    It would be real cute if the dongle turned out to be attached to a $1400 OCUR- well probably “just” a Docsis modem to do the upstream communication.


  2. Personally I find it embarrassing that they would deploy a switched network with the full knowledge of the cable card mandate coming and not already of have a solution in the the bag and ready for to go for consumers. This shows some frighteningly short sighted engineering an planing around, um reality from well, everyone involved.

  3. I don’t think it’s short-sightedness as much as it is arrogance that the world revolves around them. That’s why it’s surprising they’re going down this path without explicit FCC persuasion. Even if this box comes to pass, it’s safe to say most CableCARD televisions either won’t have USB jacks or won’t receive firmware updates to take advantage of it. Now that I’m in the market for a new TV, I realize most manufacturers have already given up on CCs — too bad considering they’re more prominent now with 7/07 having hit.

  4. “Of course, it remains to be seen how quick something like this can make it to market (both hardware and software) and at what price.”

    I’ll tell you “at what price”… The price for a CableCard user will be no different (or higher!) than that of someone renting a digital cable box and remote. The cable cos will figure a way to squeeze every drop of money out of you they can!

    “No one’s gonna have access to our premium channels with a MEASLY $2.50/month CableCard! By God, customers should be paying at least $10-15 a month in hardware that gives nothing more than the *capability* to receive our programming!”

  5. How appropriate… Time Warner Cincinnati just switched over the ENTIRE HD Standard Tier to SDV! That means no ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, Discovery HD or TNT HD for Tivo HD and other CableCard users! God I hate them!

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