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FCC Approves Changes To Cable Box Rules 439

Posted by timothy
from the crack-in-the-castle-wall dept.
GovTechGuy writes "The FCC issued an order Thursday that should make it much easier and cheaper for consumers to purchase and install third-party cable boxes made by manufacturers such as TiVo. The rules are aimed at spurring competition in the cable box market; currently consumers overwhelmingly choose to rent a box from their cable provider rather than buy their own. Lawmakers have complained the current cable box technology is outdated and doesn't allow consumers to leverage new sources of video content such as the Web or streaming services from providers such as Netflix. The new rules should result in a smarter, more advanced cable box in the near future."
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FCC Approves Changes To Cable Box Rules

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  • Pick up a phone? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @07:56PM (#33902624) Homepage Journal

    I had a cablecard installed in my Tivo Premiere within days of calling Verizon with no hassle at all.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @08:04PM (#33902714)

    TFA states a lot of PR from the FCC, the TiVo, and the cable industry on the effects the new rule will have on consumers, but nowhere describes what about the CableCARD rules is actually being changed, and doesn't cite the order to enable people to check for themselves. So I checked the FCC website, the order is here [fcc.gov].

    Haven't had time to read it myself yet, but hopefully having it will enable people to read it and make comments on the actual content, rather than the fluff in TFA.

  • by MichaelKristopeit 24 (1916798) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @08:09PM (#33902794)
    you're an idiot. i've had comcast at over 10 addresses in the last 3 years. it's always a giant headache. in the end, after everyone has typed the keys in correctly, everything works.
  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:05PM (#33903312)

    Bittorrent is great, but just a tiny bit more cumbersome than simply pulling up a DVR menu or punching in a 4-digit channel number, and then there's the question of legality.

    The TV shows I torrent are ones that for some reason my DVR did not record, so I don't really care if I'm technically infringing copyright. That said...

    There are already torrent clients that can use RSS feeds to grab the shows you are interested in. With a very small amount of extra coding, you could end up with the downloaded files renamed the way you want and in the right place for your media player to be able to access them, all with no human intervention. It's probably already been done, but I've never bothered to investigate.

    The only real downside to this is that at times you might wait a day or two after the original broadcast before you have access. Since I'm currently a few months behind on TV, this wouldn't be a problem for me.

  • Re:rest assured (Score:3, Informative)

    by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:07PM (#33903318)

    From the article:

    "A trade group representing the cable industry also praised the FCC's action and pledged to work with TiVo and other retail cable box providers to create a new video device capable of seamlessly integrating content from multiple sources.

    “We commend the Commission for its constructive approach in adopting sensible, targeted fixes to the current CableCARD rules that provide cable operators the necessary flexibility to continue improving the CableCARD experience for all of our customers," said the National Cable and Telecommunications Association in a statement. "

    Yes, they probably don't mean it, blah blah blah...

  • by megabunny (710331) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:20PM (#33903424)
    26. We conclude that the best means of assuring the development of a retail market for navigation devices is to require cable operators to allow subscribers to self-install CableCARDs. We believe cable operators should have time to train staff and develop more robust customer support infrastructures and procedures, and provide nine months to comply for any operators that allow subscribers on any of their systems to self-install any cable modems89 or leased set-top boxes.90 We are not persuaded by arguments that cable operators could not support activation of retail CableCARD devices within this reasonable transition period. However, we are concerned that a cable operator that does not permit self-installation of any equipment that attaches to its network may not have the customer support infrastructures in place to handle self-installations and may need a longer transition period.91 Therefore, we will allow cable operators that do not have any self-installation support in place twelve months to phase in this self-installation requirement.92 We also require cable operators to inform their subscribers about the self-installation option when they request CableCARDs.93
  • by blair1q (305137) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:23PM (#33903450) Journal

    I have a Roku box. Cost me $60. Uses the Internet (built-in 802.11n wireless, at that). And now is available with 1080p support (though I wish they'd announced that before I'd bought my second Roku for the other TV...)

    I get Netflix, as well as a lot of other content, on it.

    Two reasons it's not as good as cable/satellite:

    1. There still isn't a lot of content, and almost none of it is live (there's an MLB out-of-market channel, but I haven't tied into it yet to see if it's live or delayed).

    2. Roku works because it's sparsely distributed to the marketplace. The Internet does not have the bandwidth to give everyone unlimited, on-demand, random-access content in full HDTV quality all the time. The cable and satellite communication models eliminate the on-demand portion (mostly; each has some channels for on-demand-like programming, but they're pay-per-view controlled and that keeps their use down to a sparse segment of the viewership at any moment), but ensure that literally every installed endpoint can get any of the channelized content at the same time.

    Of course, the real problem with the cable/satellite models is that they've become so fractionated that no channel has a really significant audience share, so they all have suck commercial revenues, so they can't afford the decent television shows, so 90% of them run the sucky junk that costs nothing. Which makes Bruce Springsteen not just observant, but prescient by a factor of 20: 1100 channels and nothing on...

  • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @09:57PM (#33903736) Homepage

    More clueless rants from the Lemming peanut gallery.

    CC hardware vendors will happily sell their gear to Linux users and support them too.

    The main hurdle is CableLabs and the burdens they place on hardware and OS vendors.

    These restrictions IMPACT EVERYONE and even make Tivos less useful.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @10:04PM (#33903778)

    Reading the PDF, the new rules seem to be:
    1.Cable operators need to provide better access to switched digital video services (via improved tuning adapters, via an IP backchannel or via some other option)
    2.They must provide greater information to consumers about the cost of a cable card. They must also offer consumers who dont lease a set top box a lower price than those who do lease a set top box. And there is something in there about making any set top box they lease also available for sale.
    3.They must improve cable card installation including allowing self-install for any device where the manufacturer has provided installation instructions (i.e. anything where the cable company wont have to provide self-install technical support)
    4.They must provide multi-stream cable cards by default unless a consumer specifically asks for a single stream card
    5.There are changes to cable card certification designed to ensure cable card certification bodies cant hold up cable card equipment for anything other than valid technical reasons
    6.There are some changes in the interface between set top boxes and other devices. The current requirement to provide a firewire port will go away and be replaced with a requirement that is physical-interface-neutral. It will also be expanded to require 2-way communication (such as being able to send the cable box remote control signals)
    7.There is something there that says recievers will not be reqired to implement features designed to lock certain outputs on playback of certain content (something the MPAA was asking for to close the "analog hole" and prevent direct copying of certain kinds of PPV movie content)
    There are also some other things that I dont understand.

    The thing I want to see from the FCC is the elimination of any rules regarding analog cable programming and a new rule pushing cable companies to completly end analog cable programming (which frees up spectrum/bandwidth for more TV channels or higher broadband speeds)
    Something regarding over-the-air channels that says cable companies can carry over-the-air channels (including ant digital channels, high-definition or otherwise) and that the over-the-air channel providers like ABC can not prevent the cable companies from carrying their content or charge "unreasonable" fees for doing so would be nice.

  • Re:Pick up a phone? (Score:2, Informative)

    by PsyciatricHelp (951182) on Friday October 15, 2010 @09:11AM (#33907022)
    I have 2 cable cards in my Tivo. They work great. $1.20 a month for renting the card. However I did not like the fact that the Cable company Charged a $35 dollar fee to type in a few numbers to activate the cards.

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