Originally published: December 22, 2009
Last updated: December 22, 2009 - 11:24pm
In early December, the Federal Communications Commission released a Public Notice seeking comment on how the FCC can encourage innovation in the market for video devices that will assist the Commission's development of a National Broadband Plan. The convergence of the television and content delivered by IP makes this a critical time to promote innovation in set-top devices that could support the FCC's effort to drive broadband adoption and utilization. Accordingly, the FCC is considering taking an active role in formulating a solution that will spur the development of a retail market for nationally portable video devices that will work across all delivery platforms.
Texas Instruments notes that the FCC has already established the foundation for video innovation by adopting set-top box standards. The obstacle to innovation is not the standard but the refusal of service providers to furnish an open platform and fully enable the standard's features.
The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology suggests that the National Broadband Plan address accessibility issues as the Commission increases its role in ensuring that video devices will work across all delivery platforms, including multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) platforms and broadband-based video platforms. The FCC should ensure that video devices across all delivery platforms have accessible user interfaces; provide easy access to accessibility features; are capable of passing through, decoding or displaying closed captions; and are capable of providing video description and audio output of emergency information presented in text.
The Consumer Electronics Association urges the Commission to act expeditiously to require each video network operator to offer to each subscriber a home gateway server whose sole function, like that of an Internet modem, is to support the operation of the subscriber's competitive devices, on a home network.
The Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition urges the FCC to give priority to two objectives:
- The FCC needs to exercise vigorous oversight and enforcement of cable operators' obligations to provide and support CableCARDs, so that any subscriber can easily, quickly, and routinely receive and install a CableCARD at any time.
- The FCC should conduct a rulemaking aimed at requiring all MVPDs to make readily available to each subscriber a home gateway server. The sole function of the gateway should be to support the interactive operation of competitive devices on the MVPD's network, just as home devices are now supported on the Internet by modems and routers.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association agrees that a fully competitive retail MVPD navigation device market has not yet developed - despite the persistent efforts of the Commission, the cable industry, and consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers and retailers. Yet even in the absence of a retail marketplace, the video landscape has grown dramatically more competitive since 1996. Therefore, it would be prudent for the Commission to recognize these fundamental marketplace changes and launch a wide-ranging Notice of Inquiry to examine all of the relevant issues in a much broader and more comprehensive context than the limited questions asked in the Notice.
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