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07.14.2011
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Cable asks FCC to halt plans for connected TV standard

The FCC has been working on plans to create AllVid, a new CableCARD replacement standard for the delivery of IP video services and applications to Internet-connected television sets. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, however, wants the FCC to back off.

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now head of the NCTA, wrote current FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski a letter last week urging him to stop working on AllVid. Powell cited the wide array of TV apps popping up on connected TVs, tablets and mobile devices as proof that such a standard is unnecessary.

The FCC is seeking comment on AllVid in an effort to merge traditional TV channels and connected devices. The AllVid hardware would act as a universal adapter for all types of subscription TV content, delivered through a wide variety of means, including cable, satellite, VDSL, IPTV and Internet TV.

The cable industry flatly opposes the standard. Powell said the growing acceptance of new authenticated TV Everywhere services, as well as cable’s adoption of cloud-based programming guides and user interfaces, are proof that pay-TV operators are rapidly adapting to the challenges of the digital age.

“Consumers have even more choices for content from DBS, telco TV, video over the Internet, game consoles and ‘smart TV’ platforms,” Powell wrote. “Tens of millions of tablets, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs, and other smart, video-capable devices have been sold. Analysts predict that by the end of 2015, more than 500 million televisions with Internet connectivity will have shipped worldwide.”

The commission, Powell said, need not “create” a retail marketplace. The unprecedented choices available today, he said, have already surpassed what the drafters of Section 629 could have imagined, and they are growing rapidly in creativity and variety.

Powell said the FCC should do away with the plans for AllVid altogether, since the regulatory overhang could create uncertainty in a market where giant investments are already being made. “Risk taking, investment and innovation flourish most fully when freed from regulatory technology mandates and participants in the marketplace are able to craft thoughtful solutions that optimize value to consumers,” Powell wrote.

AllVid alliance members include Google, Sony, Best Buy, Mitsubishi, Nagravision, SageTV and TiVo.



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