"AllVid" - what it is and where it is going - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 09-07-2010, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm surprised there isn't a dedicated thread out there discussing the FCC's AllVid concept. The more I've read about it the more excited I am by the concept if it can be made to work.

As I understand it AllVid would specify a whole home gateway device which would take the video service provided by a cable or sat company and distibute it within the home using IP over Ethernet. A gateway can provide six simulataneous streams to various devices within a home. Security is maintained using the same protocols as DLNA. The specificaitons are very preliminary at this point but the FCC has an idea of the service they want to provide and say they would like to have it up and running by the end of 2012.

It is not spelled out but the way I see it this architecture can go much further. First, there is no reason why there can not be more than one gateway in a house. Someone could have an ATSC gateway hooked to an over the air antenna for local stations along side a DirecTV gateway which provides sat programming. The DirecTV gateway would provide access to both chanelized content and on-demand conent with a standarized model for browsing that content from AllVid receiving devices. A DVR could act as both a receiver and a gateway. It would be a receiver in that it could tune in channelized streams from the other gateways in a home. It would be a gateway in that it could present the recorded shows to other receivers the same way on-demand content would be accessed.

Since the receiving device is standardized it will very likely be incorporated into televisions. This effectively ends the cable set-top box. One gateway can service an entire home and that gateway will not need to be colocated with any television. If the gateway and future televisions use MoCA it won't even be necessary to rewire a home for Ethernet.

The comment period for the AllVid NOI has closed, but I haven't been able to find a consolidated list of responses filed. Perhaps this hasn't been released yet but it would be nice to find if it is out there. A number of groups have already publicly released their own responses and make for good reading on the various viewpoints.

Edit 1: I found a good article summarizing feedback regarding the NOI which showcases the positions various players are taking.

Edit 2: Note to moderator - I'm a bit indecisive if this post belongs in the "HDTV Technical" forum or in the "Cable, Digital Cable - Non-HDTV" forum. I would appreciate if a moderator would take a look and move it over to the other forum if he/she feels it appropriate. Thanks.
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post #2 of 27 Old 09-25-2010, 04:28 AM - Thread Starter
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For anyone interested in reading more of the responses to the AllVid NoI, I'v found the FCC page for proceeding 10-91 here. The FCC does not limit feedback to just the industry players. If you have an opinion on it write up your views and submit them. For more of the history on the FCC's open access attempts reading up on proceedings 97-80 and 00-67 is also worthwhile.
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post #3 of 27 Old 10-05-2010, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
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There will be a FCC meeting on October 14th. The main topic of the meeting is rules regarding CableCARD, but any rules issued here could give some indication on how the AllVid proposal is proceeding.

If the FCC doesn't issue any signficant new mandates for CableCARD I'd interpret it as meaning they are going to push strong on AllVid and don't see a need for new mandates on a technology which will be obsolete when AllVid deploys. If there are signficant new rules, such as requiring the IP backchannel for SDV, then I think that indicates the FCC is not confident in AllVid being ready in only two years.
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post #4 of 27 Old 10-14-2010, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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The FCC meeting is now ongoing and can be watched live here. From what I've been able to make out of the discussions so far it appears that some of the more invasive CableCARD proposals such as the IP backchannel for SDV are not being included in the order to be voted on. AllVid is getting quite a few mentions which would suggest the FCC prefers to push more effort in that direction instead of putting too many more bandaids on CableCARD.

Update

The Report and Order is now available. AllVid gets specific mention on page eight as a reason for not pusing the IP backchannel. It is mentioned again in Commissioner Michael J. Copps statement on page 53 regarding the topic being taken up "in short order".
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post #5 of 27 Old 10-14-2010, 09:43 AM
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Looks like cable companies will have to allow consumers to self-install cable cards. Not sure why it took this long, but good to see.

Also, retail cable boxes (i.e. Tivo and Moxi) will get programming that is on switched digital video. All in all a good set of decisions for consumers and not too onerous for the cable companies.

Free over the air HDTV + Tivo HD + Netflix for Blu-ray and streaming = Bliss
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post #6 of 27 Old 10-20-2010, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest View Post

I'm surprised there isn't a dedicated thread out there discussing the FCC's AllVid concept. The more I've read about it the more excited I am by the concept if it can be made to work.

IMHO there isn't much excitement because after 14 years already since the law passed it's become obvious that unless the government absolutely mandates a solution (make take another act of Congress rather than just the FCC) or makes the market come up with a solution by taking away digital encryption (except for premium channels such as HBO) until there is a solution, there will never be an actual solution and subscribers to pay TV may be stuck with stupid provider supplied set top boxes forever. Is the current FCC really willing to "go to the mat" fighting for AllVid?
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post #7 of 27 Old 10-21-2010, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammer View Post

IMHO there isn't much excitement because after 14 years already since the law passed it's become obvious that unless the government absolutely mandates a solution (make take another act of Congress rather than just the FCC) or makes the market come up with a solution by taking away digital encryption (except for premium channels such as HBO) until there is a solution, there will never be an actual solution and subscribers to pay TV may be stuck with stupid provider supplied set top boxes forever. Is the current FCC really willing to "go to the mat" fighting for AllVid?

The current FCC is more willing to push consumer interests than the previous incarnation. The last 14 years of CableCARD hell has been a good learning experience on how not to push consumer access technology. Hopefully all will learn from that experience in moving forward. Also, the consumer electronics and software companies are really in favor of this initative which should also give it some momentum.

DRM (encryption) is here to stay. The content owners are not going to let it be taken away. It would be nice if video content went the same direction music did and get away from strong protection (in favor of watermarking the stream like Apple does with iTunes+ now) but I just don't see it. As long as the DRM is implemented in software rather than hardware I don't see it being a big hinderance. I should be able to bring home an AllVid ready TV plug it and and start watching content without having to order any special hardware key from the cable company. Software key exchange between the TV and gateway should be sufficient to secure the connection.

One big issue with CableCARD was the significant hardware requirement for a television to be CableCARD ready. The CE companies had to do signficant development to implement the CableCARD interfaces and this added cost to the units. AllVid should not be that bad. Many mid to high end televisions are already including support for streaming video. AllVid is just another streaming video source only it originates locally (at the gateway in your home) rather than remotely. Most Internet connectable televisions out there won't need any additional hardware just the necessary software for dealing with AllVid specifics (as long as software key exchange is used). This is a major leg up in that shortly after AllVid is approved there will be many more consumer devices out there ready to support it than we ever had with CableCARD.

Finally, I really hope we don't need an act of Congress to make this happen. Things that go into Congress have a bad habbit of being badly deformed before they come back out, if they come out at all. The FCC has very broad authority in dealing with matters such as this so as long as the requirements to implement AllVid are not overly severe then I don't see the MVPDs being able to block it.
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post #8 of 27 Old 11-02-2010, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
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While helping the wife feed our five day old baby in the middle of the night I had a random urge to ping a Verizon FiOS representative on Twitter with a comment on AllVid. It actually led to an interesting conversation over the rest of the day that can give some insight into Verizon's stand on this initative. Here is the sequence in order:

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest - 12:07AM (Oct 30) View Post

@FiOSTV should get behind FCC's #AllVid. It will make TV in the home more versatile w/o settop boxes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FiOSTV - 6:20AM View Post

@StuffOfInterest AllVid doesn't remove "set tops" - we agree TV should be viewable on more devices

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest - 10:19AM View Post

@FiOSTV if the #AllVid "tuner" is integrated into the TV a separate set-top won't be needed, just the whole home gateway. Future GPON featr?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FiOSTV - 4:41PM View Post

@StuffOfInterest there are 2 models proposed by AllVid - home gateway and "set back box"

Quote:
Originally Posted by FiOSTV - 4:41PM View Post

@StuffOfInterest my issue is that it requires standardization of over 125 interfaces to work as promised - that's alot of committee meetings

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest - 4:57PM View Post

@FiOSTV True, a lot to get done to make #AllVid work but benefits could be worth it. I don't think it will be ready by Dec 2012.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FiOSTV - 5:53PM View Post

@StuffOfInterest the economics are tough for a gateway - supporting 3-4 screens with 2011 gateway tech will cost $250+

The "125 interfaces" is interesting. That does show they've done some work in house to at least define what would be required to implement a gateway. The comment on a gateway costing $250+ surprised me a bit. I would think that a HD set-top box costs that already. To change from a set-top to a gateway you have to add additional tuners but you loose all of the display circuitry.
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post #9 of 27 Old 12-13-2010, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The FCC has gone quiet on AllVid lately. Hopefully we'll see something after the New Year holiday when people start thinking about work again. In keeping an eye on the FCC site lately, most of the submissions have been from industry companies still claiming that AllVid will stifle competition and hurt innovation. Rather than offering any new ideas they seem to keep recyling the same talking points over and over again.

There was one interesting posting in November regarding DTCP+. That is one group which is trying to address the requirements of AllVid rather than just say it can't (or shouldn't) be done. Hopefully more groups like this and the CE companies will speak up as to the benefits of an in home transmission standard for encouraging innovation rather than stifling it.

Finally, one of my searches turned up a new website dedicated to AllVid, www.allvid.tv. At this point I would call it a joke. Just a boilerplate website with one real article link out there. Sorry, but I could do better in an afternoon using notepad as an HTML editor.
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post #10 of 27 Old 12-22-2010, 04:58 AM - Thread Starter
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There are some AllVid related videos showing up on YouTube now.

One by Public Knowledge titled "AllVid - How Does it Work?":
This is a shorter one, also by Public Knowledge, titled "AllVid Helps Tear Down the Wall":
Also, some of the non-technical press is picking up on AllVid. Variety has an article which tries to show both sides of the discussion.
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post #11 of 27 Old 01-02-2011, 04:05 PM
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AllVid sounds good, but I have my doubts.
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post #12 of 27 Old 01-11-2011, 01:00 PM
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Here's an opinion piece on why AllVid is unnecessary.

http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable&

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post #13 of 27 Old 01-11-2011, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken H View Post

Here's an opinion piece on why AllVid is unnecessary.

http://www.lightreading.com/document...site=lr_cable&

I feel like Light Reading is a bit biased here and is mostly regurgitating cable company talking points. The last section of the article talks about AllVid. Two blocks stand out to me.

Quote:
But, thanks to the emergence of OTT competition and other market forces already in play, it's looking more and more like government intervention isn't needed here. In fact, it may just slow things to a crawl.

The conclusion that it will slow things to a crawl seems like a leap. Did the IETF cause Internet innovation to slow to a crawl? Instead, without a standard I think we'll see fragmentation with some TVs (and other devices) only working with specific cable operators. When numerous cable operators and numerous CE companies that is a big matrix of individual development efforts. Having a single middle standard will allow each company (both cable and CE) to concentrate on one interface only. As I've said many times before, the key here is for the standard to be extensible so that new innovations can be incorporated in.

Quote:
As this year's CES should show, the market has already found its answer to the retail question and to broad-reaching video competition: IP.

And there is exactly what AllVid pushes for, using a common protocol (IP) to distribute varied sources of content.

If the cable companies are so desperate to control the user interface, then they should work to define a remote interface specification so that the AllVid gateway can provide a UI to the consumer device. This would let the consumer choose either the TV's native interface or the gateway interface (or perhaps a hybrid of the two) when browsing content.
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post #14 of 27 Old 02-10-2011, 05:37 AM - Thread Starter
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It looks like AllVid is turning into a battle royale between the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). CEA wants to see AllVid opening up the MVPD product wider while NCTA wants to see AllVid stop dead in its tracks.

NCTA is trying to argue that projects like Apple TV and Google TV along with Netflix streaming showing up on many devices makes AllVid unnecessary. I really don't agree with this standpoint. Currently, a provider such as Netflix has to work with every single product manufacturer to come up with a custom product. AllVid would allow for a single product which could then stream to any TV (or other device) capable of receiving AllVid programming. I would actually expect to see a Netflix PC app which would appear as an AllVid gateway on the home network allowing any TV to access the streams.

Things had been somewhat quiet since the start of the year but the posting on the FCC site are becoming more numerous now. There has been some speculation that the FCC could be moving closer to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, but I haven't seen any real evidence that we are close yet. One thing is for sure, as long as it is taking the FCC to move there is no way they can have a standard ready for mandated deployment by the end of 2012.

A few related articles:
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post #15 of 27 Old 02-10-2011, 09:17 AM
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No big surprise here, the entrenched MVPDs are going to do everything they can to kill AllVid because they don't want people to have the easy ability to move DVRs, STBs, etc. between providers. And they don't want to give up control of the user experience and all the ads and other worthless junk that come with it.

Streaming everything is the long-term future, AllVid the short-term. Too much stuff is unavail for streaming now and I don't want to rely on the cable monopoly on high-speed broadband for everything anyway. DSL and wireless will not be fast enough for the streaming future.
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-10-2011, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest View Post
It looks like AllVid is turning into a battle royale between the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). CEA wants to see AllVid opening up the MVPD product wider while NCTA wants to see AllVid stop dead in its tracks.
It will be dead in its tracks unless the FCC rules in its favor and is willing to go to Congress if necessary to fight for it.
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-10-2011, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammer View Post

It will be dead in its tracks unless the FCC rules in its favor and is willing to go to Congress if necessary to fight for it.

Yes, but look who is control in the House! Those in the pocket of Big Business. This is going nowhere. I wouldn't be surprised at all to find that he House will try to defund the FCC to keep progress from happening!

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post #18 of 27 Old 02-10-2011, 04:11 PM
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Here is another recent article in Ars Technica discussing AllVid.

This whole topic (including CableCards before) is reminding me of the Bell Telephone fights over interconnects and hardware on their system.

Does anyone remember when you could not buy a phone and long distance was expensive? Now long distance is almost too cheap to meter and even the cell companies are giving away unlimited voice. The problem is that it took more than 25 years to get here from when Judge Green broke up AT&T.

I don't doubt that internet delivery (via land line/fiber and cellular) companies will just be 'big dumb pipe' providers - but it will take a bit longer. They are in defense mode, but things like the Comcast NBC merger show the direction - content will be king.

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post #19 of 27 Old 02-14-2011, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasG View Post

Here is another recent article in Ars Technica discussing AllVid.

This whole topic (including CableCards before) is reminding me of the Bell Telephone fights over interconnects and hardware on their system.

Does anyone remember when you could not buy a phone and long distance was expensive? Now long distance is almost too cheap to meter and even the cell companies are giving away unlimited voice. The problem is that it took more than 25 years to get here from when Judge Green broke up AT&T.

I don't doubt that internet delivery (via land line/fiber and cellular) companies will just be 'big dumb pipe' providers - but it will take a bit longer. They are in defense mode, but things like the Comcast NBC merger show the direction - content will be king.

Good article. The way content providers have been treating Google TV (blocking it from using their existing streaming services) shows me how desperate they are becoming to protect their market and just how import AllVid (as well as some form of Net Neutrality) is to ensuring consumer access to content.

Regarding the AT&T breakup, I agree that this is likely where MVPDs will be going over time. There should be a distinction between content providers and content delivery. The blurring of the lines is already causing issues with content providers playing hardball with delivery companies they don't have an interest in. Providing a strong separation between the two will hopefully cut down on these issues.

Separate topic...

There has been some recent discussions regarding metadata. I see there as being at least three levels of metadata: channel identification, program identification, and program description. At the very least I think the FCC should mandate channel identification in AllVid. The technical standard should also cover program identification and program description. That way if the MVPD chooses to provide it then the AllVid devices will only have to track one standard for that data. I don't think it is essential for the MVPD to provide program identification and description information. TiVo has surived fine for years using their own metadata provider. The only issue they suffer is when a MVPD adds, removes, or relocates a channel there can be a lag for TiVo to catch up. By requring the MVPD to provide channel identificaiton as part of the stream any third party devices will at least know what network is on which channel.
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post #20 of 27 Old 02-16-2011, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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There is a great article at Wired regarding NCTA's war against AllVid. The article discusses how NCTA is getting close to just making up their own facts as they trot out every boogeyman available to justify their stance that AllVid is bad. They make claim after claim of piracy even though there has been plenty of discussion of how technlogy such as DTCP+ can provide digital rights management control and avoid content piracy.
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post #21 of 27 Old 02-16-2011, 10:22 PM
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From Karl Bode at Broadband DSL Reports:

Quote:


Cable, MPAA Work To Crush Open Set Top Competition

Collective Effort To Derail FCC's New 'AllVid' Effort

As we've discussed for years, the CableCARD has struggled to see adoption, with incompetent regulators certainly playing a starring role in the saga via a set of dubious rules that were inconsistently enforced. While cable companies blame broken government, cable operators deserve their fair share of the blame as well. To protect set top box rental revenues, operators rarely advertised the technology and made installations frequently nightmarish and expensive. When sub-par CableCARD adoption stats then naturally emerged every year, the cable industry then just shrugged and insisted that golly, gosh and darn -- consumers just weren't interested in the idea.

Back in October the FCC initiated the very early part of a new proceeding (pdf) aimed at fixing some of the dysfunction in the CableCARD world and opening the set top box market to a litany of inter-operable broadband-connected set tops like GoogleTV. Again, the cable industry doesn't want this because they enjoy their gatekeeper position over the set top market. There absolutely are technical obstacles to overcome to open up the market, but the fact remains the cable industry doesn't really want to overcome them.

Matt Lasar at Ars Technica notes they're engaged in an all-out war on this new effort via a number of misleading arguments, such as the incorrect suggestion this effort ignores contract and copyright law. Cable is joined by the MPAA, who insists that broadband-set tops make it easier to access pirated content:
Quote:


"legitimate MVPD and online content sources will be presented in user interfaces alongside illegitimate sources (such as sites featuring pirated content)," MPAA warns. "In essence, this 'shopping mall' approach could enable the purveyor of counterfeit goods to set up shop alongside respected brand-name retailers, causing consumer confusion."

Of course as Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, it would make it easier for customers to gain access to legitimate content as well, but that seems run over and buried by the entertainment industry's usual logic plow. Cable meanwhile isn't just concerned about set top rental revenues. Having repeatedly insisted that Internet video will never pose a threat to traditional TV, the last thing executives want is technology that actually enables consumers to have a broad choice of video content. Like CableCARD, this all probably ends with a series of whimpers, typical fingerpointing at government by an industry that sabotaged the effort at every step, and the cable industry informing you that you probably didn't want actual choice and competition anyway.

For a lot more detail, follow the links at: http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/C...etition-112749

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post #22 of 27 Old 02-17-2011, 04:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffOfInterest View Post

There is a great article at Wired regarding NCTA's war against AllVid. The article discusses how NCTA is getting close to just making up their own facts as they trot out every boogeyman available to justify their stance that AllVid is bad. They make claim after claim of piracy even though there has been plenty of discussion of how technlogy such as DTCP+ can provide digital rights management control and avoid content piracy.

Wired copied the Ars article on their site. Great read though, thanks for posting.
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post #23 of 27 Old 02-17-2011, 04:48 AM - Thread Starter
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The CE players are getting organized now to push back at NCTA. I first read about the new AllVid Tech Company Alliance on Multichannel News last night. This morning there is an eleven page release by them at the FCC site for AllVid. The companies which are part of the alliance are:
  • Best Buy Co., Inc.
  • Google Inc.
  • Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America
  • Nagravision
  • SageTV, LLC
  • Sony Electronics Inc.
  • TiVo Inc.

It's interesting to see hardware producers, software producers, and retailers as part of the group.
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post #24 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 05:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, it has been a year since the NoI (released April 21, 2010) and the FCC hasn't pushed the process any further. There is still a steady drip of filings at the FCC site from the concerned parties but no indication of when or if the FCC is going to move forward.

The AllVid Tech Company Alliance has been quiet since its inception with only one filing since their original announcement.

With no movement towards a NPR I don't see any way this can be pushed out before the end of 2012 as was originally proposed. There will be too much hardware and software development work required before gateway devices will be ready for deployment.
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post #25 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 06:30 AM
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Foot dragging and lack of FCC involvement will mean that this ends up just like tru2way - DOA.
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post #26 of 27 Old 05-06-2011, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by slowbiscuit View Post

Foot dragging and lack of FCC involvement will mean that this ends up just like tru2way - DOA.

I come home from vacation and find none of my TV are working. Comcasat want to double my bill by charging me for every TV in my house to have a box that will give a far worse signal quality than the digital tuners already built into my TV. further more my replaytv, picture-in-picture are all rendered unless and made it impossible to cancel service without having to drive to their office to return their junk leased equipment. They call this an TV service enhancement?

This is HELL!!!!
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post #27 of 27 Old 05-27-2011, 06:35 AM
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They call this an TV service enhancement?

Exactly. They are "enhancing" their bottom line.

Cut the cord. TV belongs OTA, not on the overly burdened Internet.

Abundant OTA television is what makes this country different from all others. Lets keep it this way.
The Internet is no place for streaming video.
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