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“Plug and Play” DTV moves closer to existence

The CEA and a group of cable operators, serving 75 percent of all cable subscribers (led by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association) have agreed to facilitate what the industry calls DTV set “plug and play.” This agreement paves the way for “cable ready” DTV sets, and in cases where a set-top box (STB) is required, cable operators will use an IEEE 1394 (Fire Wire) interface between STB and the DTV receiver. This will allow consumers to record content from cable, and will also insure that current DTV sets will not become immediately obsolete. The set manufacturers have agreed to support FCC labeling regulations that specify Digital Visual Interface (DVI)/ high-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) when these become available.

HDCP is a specification developed by Intel to protect digital entertainment content across a DVI interface. The HDCP specification provides a method for transmitting and receiving digital entertainment content to DVI-compliant digital displays. DVI (Digital Video Interface) is a specification created by the Digital Display Working Group (DDWG) to accommodate analog and digital monitors with a single connector.

These agreements are aimed at minimizing the number of STBs that subscribers lease from the cable operators, and allow for many of the STBs that are required to be purchased by consumers from retail stores. Both FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy issued statements applauding the agreement and acknowledging that the FCC needs to take additional action to push the agreement into reality.

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