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Discussion Starter #1
Just curious... why is this April 1 "must provide 1394-equipped set top box if customer requests it" edict from the FCC only applicable to cable systems (e.g. Comcast)?


Why doesn't (or shouldn't) it also apply to satellite systems, namely DirecTV in particular?


The obvious market forces which drove Motorola to produce its latest family of boxes, and cable providers such as Comcast to utilize these boxes, would seem to drive us SD/HD recorder time-shifting seekers to this new option.


You'd think that FCC edict or not, this natural hardware-driven migration from satellite to cable for specifically this 1394 reason would shake up DirecTV.
 

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The cable industry agreed to the Firewire mandate (while in negotiations with the electronics companies). The FCC just signed off on the agreement.


The dbs companies were not involved with the negotiations ... and would likely challange a Firewire mandate from the FCC. They have challanged other parts of the agreement ...


Yes, you would think market forces would eventually drive them to Firewire ...
 

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Well first you've gotta convince your local cable-co to do HD ... then maybe you can play the cable/firewire vs DBS/no-firewire game. :D Just be happy *you* have a choice.


HDC
 

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Is there a citable source somewhere for this requirement? I'd love to ask my cable company about this to see what they say, but I'd like to be able to cite something.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dfriend
Is there a citable source somewhere for this requirement? I'd love to ask my cable company about this to see what they say, but I'd like to be able to cite something.
Straight from the FCC order:
Quote:
(4) Cable operators shall:

(i) Effective April 1, 2004, upon request of a customer, replace any leased high definition set-top box, which does not include a functional IEEE 1394 interface, with one that includes a functional IEEE 1394 interface or upgrade the customer's set-top box by download or other means to ensure that the IEEE 1394 interface is functional.
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_publi...C-03-225A1.pdf pg. 50
 

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I suspect this date was a target date as many boxes that have the ports don't have the software to enable them and that software is still in development. Of course, April 1 is not an ordinary date, if you know what I mean. :)


Seriously, I suppose Apr 1 is doable if the software has been in beta for a while already and there are enough boxes with the ports available from the manufacturers. It's one thing for the FCC to mandate such an item, it's quite another for them to **** boxes, since they don't produce anything. :)


How do you hold a cableco liable if the boxes simply don't exist in sufficient quantities? To me, it's mandates like this that keep us from getting many of the problems with current boxes fixed. They have to work on the 1394 stuff instead of cleaning up PQ problems, etc., in the 3250, 8000, etc., especially when you consider how many folks will even be able to use the 1394 ports to begin with.


And, no, I'm not trying to slight those that could use the port. It's just that I think fixing the IPG, for example, so it displays on any input is a little more useful for more people than the 1394 port, particularly by Apr 1.
 

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The satellite companies were badly screwed over by this agreement.


They would be delighted by anything that gets free STBs built into all televisions, requiring only a CAM in the form of a PC card.


I'm 100% certain they'd give in on any Firewire objection (which isn't theirs, it's the studios') in exchange for what the cable guys got.


Mark
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
The satellite companies were badly screwed over by this agreement.


They would be delighted by anything that gets free STBs built into all televisions, requiring only a CAM in the form of a PC card.


I'm 100% certain they'd give in on any Firewire objection (which isn't theirs, it's the studios') in exchange for what the cable guys got.


Mark
Satellite guys will never have tuners built in as they use different standards plus they never objected to firewire and I doubt they ever will.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
The satellite companies were badly screwed over by this agreement.


They would be delighted by anything that gets free STBs built into all televisions, requiring only a CAM in the form of a PC card.


I'm 100% certain they'd give in on any Firewire objection (which isn't theirs, it's the studios') in exchange for what the cable guys got.


Mark
Just a minute... it doesn't take a mandate or an FCC edit (and subsequent signatures by participants who agree to it) to voluntarily respond to what market forces are asking for.


There's nothing to prevent Hughes/Fox/DirecTV from coming up with agreements with manufacturers that install DirecTV-compatible receivers right inside of TV's. A notable example is the RCA 38310 which had exactly that... a built-in DirecTV receiver in it.


So just because the FCC now demands new TV's to be digital cable compatible (to avoid the need for an external receiver box) shouldn't be the real issue.


The real issue is responding to market demand for HD time-shifting capability, outboarding to a D-VHS recorder. So that 1394 outbound port needs to be available either on a TV which is built-in equipped to receive HD from OTA and satellite/cable, or on an external STB used to receive HD from OTA and satellite/cable.


The issue is HD time-shifting to D-VHS. That's what the market wants, and that's what these hardware/content/service providers must respond to.
 

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Quote:
There's nothing to prevent Hughes/Fox/DirecTV from coming up with agreements with manufacturers that install DirecTV-compatible receivers right inside of TV's. A notable example is the RCA 38310 which had exactly that... a built-in DirecTV receiver in it.
Yes that is true but that tuner would only work with D*plus it would add a lot to a price of TV. That RCA TV was a disaster anyway. Cable agreement assures that any cablecard tuner will work on any cable system with the POD as it is all standardized with ATSC cable spec.


Maybe if D* would switch to DVB standard which E*uses there would be a better chance of that.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by CKNA
they never objected to firewire and I doubt they ever will
They'd reject a government mandate for the same reason I'd object to the government forcing me to take a shower every day. Yes, I'm going to do it anyway and yes it's a good idea ... but on principle the government has no business forcing me to do it (and I'm sure the courts would agree).


Same with the electronics companies and the tuner mandate. Eventually the vast majority of digital TVs would have come with built in tuners. But, the electronics companies wanted to do it on their schedule according to cost and demand ... not a government mandate. So they challanged it in court (and lost).
Quote:
Originally posted by rogo
The satellite companies were badly screwed over by this agreement.
If the satellite companies were really interested in something similar they could do it. Yes, there are (significant) technical challanges but nothing insurmountable.


Also, there's nothing that forces TV manufacturers to make digital cable ready (CableCARD) sets ... it's just an option available to them. Yes, the technology is similar enough to an OTA tuner to make it a desireable option to add ...
 

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Two comments:


1. dt_dc, as far as I know there IS an FCC mandate that all new TVs after a certain point have to be digital cable ready (have built-in digital cable tuners), it is not just an option available to them.


2. DSperber, just how many D-VHS units do you think are in use? While 1394 capability might be useful to those of you who have them, that does not translate into any great "market force". The "real" market force IMO is time-shifting (which you mentioned) and that is being addressed by HD DVRs from all content providers. I will agree that as more 1394 capability comes, so may more D-VHS sales, etc. DVR will be a somewhat costly feature what with the monthly fees and all, but there are a lot of folks just now finding out how cool it is to be able to pause live TV, etc., without having to buy/store tapes, and D-VHS does not quite do that. Then there is the copy-protection stuff that is being addressed and that may limit what you can legally record via 1394 anyway, no?
 

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sat tuners built in is not the same. Cable channels are all standard so one TV set with 2 sets of channels is all you need to sell anywhere in the country. Today we have 3 different DBS signal formats with smart card security. The tuners built in would either be cost prohibitive or service provider specific. That's what it was with the few that were made, they had to be used with D* as the HDTV was a DTC-100 model built in. There may be others but today the set would need to be compatible with D*E*& V*


The 1394 addition is not a major cost except for R&D. Look at what the cards cost to add to a PC, $20 retail? In high volume cable boxes it is insignificant as well.


The Apr 1 date is not difficult to handle with the numbers based on the ruling wording. Only those people who actually need and want the trade up to 1394 will be asking for it so the numbers will, initially, be small. The ability to supply this should be a self generated low count based on shear mathematics. The number of request will grow but it won't hit on April 1 like 50 million requests! I'd bet the number in Jacksonville will be less than 10 for the first few months!
 

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Don, based upon what typically happens here in Phoenix whenever Cox releases a new box, "everyone" wants one whether they need it or not. Many folks don't even know how to spell IEEE, Firewire, iLink, etc., but they will still want it. I guess Cox will have to roll out the cable gestapo and verify that you have a D-VHS recorder, etc., before they give you a new box. :) What seems funny to me is that given this mandate, S-A is still shipping versions of their boxes (3250HD, not sure about 8000HD) without the 1394 ports even though they are available as an option on the same model box. Seems to be kind of silly to run a unit through an assembly line and not put the 1394 ports in at this point, doesn't it?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DoubleDAZ
1. dt_dc, as far as I know there IS an FCC mandate that all new TVs after a certain point have to be digital cable ready (have built-in digital cable tuners), it is not just an option available to them.
Nope, the FCC tuner mandate is for OTA tuners only:
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_publi...C-02-230A1.pdf


There is nothing in the FCC plug and play order mandating sets be 'digital cable ready':
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_publi...C-03-225A1.pdf


If you have a source that states otherwise, I'd be interested in seeing it.


Now, 'digital cable ready' sets DO have to include OTA tuners. And, the technology is similar enough that, eventually, there will probably be very few sets that are not 'digital cable ready' ... however, it's not mandated. Just like current analog 'cable ready' sets ... you don't have to make a cable ready set, but you need to put an NTSC tuner in and by the time you do that ... might as well support the upper cable channels. For a while, we'll probably see some OTA only sets. However, as the costs come down and, more importantly, the chip makers start coming out with integrated single-chip OTA/cable solutions ... it'll become a 'standard' feature.
 

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I agree 100%. They gave me a 3250HD with no 1394 on it. I will actually call today now that I see this and see if I can get one with firewire, they may already be available. If they are not, I will definitely be getting one on April 1st (coincidentally my bday, ya, the joke was on my parents! ;))


Thanks for the info! Finally I can time shift HD content with my PC! YAHOO!!!!! This is better to me than a TW issued HD Time shift box!
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by DoubleDAZ
Then there is the copy-protection stuff that is being addressed and that may limit what you can legally record via 1394 anyway, no?
The copy protection is called 5C, and the Broadcast Flag will also play a part in what you can record.


Just like dt_dc said, this is not a mandate. The Cosumer Electornics industry made an agreement with the Cable Companies, and the FCC merely "Approved" it.


In fact the firewire was originally supposed to be available Jan 1st 04, but the FCC pushed it back because of all the squabbling about "Two way communications" that was eventually left out of the agreement to be decided on another day.


According to docs I have read issued by D* their main objection was that the FCC bundled them into this agreement by not allowing them to down-rez component outputs. They didn't want the agreement to go though because they weren't willing to enter into the agreement, because it would have forced them to re-implement their entire infrastructure.


The cable companies have been smart about not using "Smart Cards" but instead using "CableCards". This suddle difference will help them from the mass piracy that the DBS companies fight today.* I believe the reason why the MPAA won't allow them to have Firewire ports is because they don't want their valuable content(PPV) traveling over the DBS companies insecure network.


* I would bet that "Consumer" "CableCard" readers/writers will be illegal to own(No legal use). This is unlike SmartCards which anyone can buy a reader/writer for.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Harrison
Finally I can time shift HD content with my PC! YAHOO!!!!!
I wouldn't count those chickens too soon ...


As alluded to above, there's the potential for 5C (DTCP) to wreck the party of time shifting via PC. There aren't any 5C compliant Firewire cards for PCs so ... there's the very real potential of not being able to do much. I would, eventually, expect to see some 5C compliant ability on PCs ... but there is nothing to indicate this will happen soon. The tech companies need to get some sort of persistant storage mechanism approved by 5C for any sort of 5C compliant PC. The ones they've tried to get approved so far have been shot down. It'll happen eventually (big Microsoft push for their 'Media Center') but it's going to take time.


Now, there is the possibility that some content won't need 5C protection ... but it's also possible that all content will. Even the weak 'Broadcast Flag' level of protection requires that any Firewire output be protected by 5C. Yes, the flags are set so that you can freely record and do whatever ... but the devices must be 5C compliant so ... no sending 'Broadcast Flag' protected content to your non 5C compliant PC.


It's also very possible that SciAtl will implement their Firewire so it always requires 5C (even if you're viewing content that doesn't require it). That's what they did with DVI ... their boxes always require HDCP. This is probably to reduce complexity and make implementation easier. They may take the same approach with Firewire. Then again, the Motorola boxes apparantly don't always require 5C so perhaps there is hope.
 

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For the technically minded, there are some excellent resources available to educate oneself on 5C/DTCP and its architectural implications. In particular, the DTCP homepage http://www.dtcp.com/ has plenty of information.


For a more detailed examination of what kind of design is required to qualify for 5C/DTCP licensing, take a look at this very informative presentation from a recent Intel developer's conference:

http://www.intel.com/idf/us/fall2003...SDGHS84_OS.pdf


I esitmate that we'll see Media Center PCs licensed for DTCP by the winter holiday selling season in 2004, and it'll be at least 2005 before we see commodity motherboards qualified, if ever.


-T.
 

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"The issue is HD time-shifting to D-VHS. That's what the market wants, and that's what these hardware/content/service providers must respond to."


ROFLMAO!!!! I can guarantee that D-VHS will never reach 2% of U.S. households. Ever. That's hardly "the market."


==============================================


"If the satellite companies were really interested in something similar they could do it. Yes, there are (significant) technical challanges but nothing insurmountable."


Um, no, they couldn't Despite the fact that satellite is about 25% of the market, cable is 75% of the market.


There was a nearly infinite set of ways of implementing this and the one they chose neatly shuts out satellite from playing. There is silicon from Broadcom already that can demodulate both QPSK/8PSK and at least 16QAM. It's not evenly remotely far-fetched to believe there couldn't have been a single demodulator to handle all the format.


The tuners are different, but I'm not sure how much so.


And as for the CAM, there is no reason the card couldn't have been a CableCARD or a Dish card or a DirecTV card... Once you've created the interface and said to the system "Here is where we do CA" the system could be CA-method independent.


The major reason I think this will ultimately prove so irrelevant is that the existing one-way CableCard is something of a non-starter. It requires a separately implemented EPG from the one that's in the box, doesn't support VOD, and doesn't support PPV.


Most importantly, however, with 25% of the country slated to be using DVR's by the end of 2007, the kind of people who will be buying new sets equipped with CableCard are the very people who won't be using it.


And given the comical pricing schemes being publicly discussed by the cable ops and by SA and Moto (final pricing >>may
 
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