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markofmayhem
Why not now?
Premium
join:2004-04-08
Pittsburgh, PA
kudos:5
reply to telcodad

Re: Say goodbye to ClearQAM

said by telcodad:

However, it seems to me that the article mixes the issue of encryption of all digital channels (no more Clear QAM) with the elimination of analog channels (digital migration).

It also seems to conveniently leave out that these stations are double-dipping the public; using our airwave/frequency space which is free to view, because it is our's and not the station's unless we allow the use; and also charging us to view the same content over more solidified delivery systems. It is hard to declare these stations as "service to the public" while they bill us through a third party...

Unfortunately, the outcome of the "risk to lose viewership" angle of encrypting pay-for-TV (which includes ABC, CBS, NBC, etc these days) to push these OTA-free, Sat/Cable-pay stations to ease-up or eliminate carriage-some fees is not realistic. In the end, we will pay more for less; pretty much the outcome of almost all FCC rulings.
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telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

An article just out on the Multichannel News site on the NCTA's response to Boxee's objections to encrypting the basic-tier channels:

NCTA: Boxee Is Wrong About Basic Cable Encryption
Internet-Video Startup Claimed That Eliminating 'Clear QAM' Will Hurt Consumers
Multichannel News - February 8, 2012
»www.multichannel.com/article/480···tion.php



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

The Public Knowledge website has this article that discusses the issue:

Let's Get the Future of TV Right
Public Knowledge - February 6, 2012
»publicknowledge.org/blog/lets-ge···tv-right


GTFan

join:2004-12-03

And it continues to recommend FCC's AllVid proposal as a solution, which appears to have gone nowhere (just like tru2way). Figures.



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

said by GTFan:

And it continues to recommend FCC's AllVid proposal as a solution, which appears to have gone nowhere (just like tru2way). Figures.

You can view the latest public filings (including one posted today from Public Knowledge), from parties on both sides of the AllVid proposal, on the FCC website at: »fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceedin···me=10-91


PaulGo

join:2005-01-29
Gaithersburg, MD

Comcast is actively pushing for the encryption of all channels:

»venturebeat.com/2012/02/08/fcc-u···r-cable/


GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to telcodad

said by telcodad:

said by GTFan:

And it continues to recommend FCC's AllVid proposal as a solution, which appears to have gone nowhere (just like tru2way). Figures.

You can view the latest public filings (including one posted today from Public Knowledge), from parties on both sides of the AllVid proposal, on the FCC website at: »fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceedin···me=10-91

Unfortunately, comments don't equate to action on AllVid - from the original notice of intent two years ago, I believe the implementation was supposed to be done (or at least well under way) by end of this year. The FCC has done nothing with it since the NOI came out, as far as I can tell.


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

said by GTFan:

said by telcodad:

said by GTFan:

And it continues to recommend FCC's AllVid proposal as a solution, which appears to have gone nowhere (just like tru2way). Figures.

You can view the latest public filings (including one posted today from Public Knowledge), from parties on both sides of the AllVid proposal, on the FCC website at: »fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/proceedin···me=10-91

Unfortunately, comments don't equate to action on AllVid ...

I agree, given the strong opposition to this by the big cable companies, this will not go anywhere, while in the meantime, they will soon be successful on removing the ban on encrypting the basic-tier digital channels.


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5
reply to telcodad

said by telcodad:

An article just out on the Multichannel News site on the NCTA's response to Boxee's objections to encrypting the basic-tier channels:

NCTA: Boxee Is Wrong About Basic Cable Encryption
Internet-Video Startup Claimed That Eliminating 'Clear QAM' Will Hurt Consumers
Multichannel News - February 8, 2012
»www.multichannel.com/article/480···tion.php

A post on Boxee's blog page today, responding to the NCTA's latest comments:

In Response to the Cable Companies Misleading Arguments to the FCC
Boxee website blog - February 13, 2012
»blog.boxee.tv/2012/02/13/in-resp···the-fcc/


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

1 edit

Found this article on the FCC proposing to extend the current "must-carry" rules for local broadcast channels for another 3 years, but maybe for the last time:

DTV Must-Carry Rules Up for Review
FCC opens docket to on cable carriage of broadcast signals
TV Technology - February 13, 2012
»www.tvtechnology.com/article/dtv···w/211780

The FCC NPRM document can be seen here: »transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Release···18A1.pdf


The Q

join:2008-06-26
Collegeville, PA

An interesting take on Clear QAM from Mutichannel News...

»www.multichannel.com/blog/BIT_RA···e_Do.php

Boxee: Who Needs Cable? Actually, We Do
Todd Spangler, Multichannel News

February 9, 2012

Cut the cord! Save hundreds of dollars a year by not paying for cable TV!

Only, you know, not exactly.

Boxee, the Internet-video software startup, is engaging in some interesting rhetorical gymnastics. On the one hand, it’s trying to pitch Boxee Live TV, a $49 dongle for use with the $167.99 set-top made by D-Link, as a way to junk cable TV — just get your favorite programming over the air for free and watch whatever else for free on the Web!

Except, at the same time, Boxee is lobbying the FCC to prevent cable operators from encrypting basic-tier services, the way satellite TV operators do.

Why? Because Boxee wants to let Live TV users access clear QAM cable channels without the additional cost associated with putting a CableCard slot in the D-Link box. Upwards of 40% of Boxee Live TV users rely on unencrypted cable service, the company claims.

Boxee argues that encrypting cable TV (again, the way DirecTV and Dish do) would force “millions” of people who use clear QAM to rent cable boxes.

That’s wrong, on two counts. First, the industry will give free adapters to anybody who asks for them (two set-tops and/or CableCards free for two years, as per the FCC’s NPRM). Second, the number of people who would want these is not in the “millions”: Cablevision notes that in its New York City system, which converted part of its service area to full-lineup encryption in July 2011, less than 0.1% of approximately 400,000 subscribers affected by the change requested a free set-top or CableCard — somewhere around 400 households.

Boxee argues that more consumers would demand clear QAM if they knew options like Boxee Live TV were available to them.

But that’s speculative and, obviously, self-serving. From a policy perspective, cable operators shouldn’t have to adhere to an outmoded regulatory regime simply because doing so might help Boxee sell a few more of its boxes — and just because Boxee doesn’t want to invest in a CableCard solution (as TiVo and others have).

NCTA’s position has consistently been that, if the FCC mandates some kind of “AllVid” standard for securely accessing TV programming, the rules should apply to satellite and telco services, too. That’s a different can of worms, and I’ve argued that AllVid represents a tax on all pay-TV subscribers with dubious benefits given the increasing availability of pay-TV services across myriad devices.

Now, why is it in the public interest to allow cable operators to encrypt their basic lineups? Isn’t that just a move to make it easier to cut off people who are stealing cable, while inconveniencing the (very small number of) paying subscribers who like clear QAM?

Granted, the consumer benefits of full-lineup encryption are somewhat indirect — but they’re clear and quantifiable.

Let’s look at Cablevision NYC again: Customers in areas where encrypted basic is available are now able to self-install cable TV service — no waiting around for the cable guy to show up. That’s awesome, given that everyone hates to wait around for service appointments. According to one estimate, waiting for service visits costs American consumers an average of $243 per year in lost wages. Since July 2011, 99% of Cablevision’s disconnects in those areas have happened without a truck roll.

Meanwhile, Boxee weirdly promises that Live TV dongle users will get “HD picture quality that’s even better than cable.” Umm… yeah, unless they’re getting TV from their cable provider, in which case it will be exactly as good as cable.

Another odd bit of misinformation: Boxee claims on its website that basic cable TV packages are “usually free with a Cable Internet.” That’s incorrect. Cable companies charge for their TV services. I’m not suggesting Boxee is condoning theft of service, but if you’re watching cable TV and not paying for it you’re stealing it.

By the way, Boxee is right about one thing: Free, over-the-air TV is not universally available. It points out, “Many parts of the country still have little or no HD antenna reception. We can’t count on our users being able to use Boxee Live TV with an OTA signal.”

The NCTA counters (buttering up the FCC, you will note), “Given the Commission’s successful oversight of the digital television transition, Boxee’s claim that large swaths of the country are unable to receive digital broadcast signals lacks credibility.” But certainly, there are dead zones — in both cities like New York and rural areas — which is why an antenna-plus-cable-set-top solution is not, to my mind, a viable path for operators.


The Q

join:2008-06-26
Collegeville, PA

1 edit

and another recent "industry" article..

»arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news···tive.ars

Let 1,000 Boxees bloom: fighting Big Cable's encryption initiative
Matthew Lasar, ArsTechnica

It is war between the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Boxee over a Federal Communications Commission proposal that would allow cable companies to encrypt or scramble their "basic tier" streams on all-digital systems. Time Warner Cable and Comcast say go for it. But Boxee is calling for a time-out on the idea.

Up until now, basic tier consumers have not needed de-scrambling set-top boxes to connect to basic tier (which usually just offer the over-the-air channels), the company's latest blog post warns. Big cable's real motivation in pushing this rule "is to prevent you from being able to connect the cable from the wall directly to your TV or Boxee Box. You will need to rent a set-top box from your cable provider, pay an extra $5-15 per month and it will no longer work with your Boxee Box or similar devices."

Boxee markets a gadget that allows consumers to watch both cable and Internet TV via that interface, and a hefty percentage of its customers depend on that nonencrypted stream to make the system work. In fact, Boxee has told the FCC that 40 percent of its device buyers connect to cable via a "clear QAM" [unencrypted quadrature amplitude modulation] signal.

"We estimate millions of consumers will see their TVs go dark," Boxee warns.

TP on board
Baloney, replies the NCTA, disputing Boxee's numbers and faulting the company for not integrating CableCARD access in its machines. "Boxee makes the astounding claim that basic tier encryption will have no consumer benefits, ignoring the substantial record evidence to the contrary—including the fact that encryption will free cable customers from having to wait at home for a service visit when connecting or disconnecting service."

The filing notes that straight-to-the-wall connections usually involve a technician visit to make sure the connection is secure. "Once the basic tier is encrypted, the opportunity for truckless installation and/or disconnection becomes available to all customers, not just basic tier customers."

To which Boxee has choice words: "Considering this ruling would also mean millions more set top boxes and cable cards are manufactured, distributed, and attached to electric outlets... their argument doesn't hold water. It's akin to a cable executive taking a private jet to an FCC meeting, but insisting on having recycled toilet paper on-board to help save the environment."

In the clear
Here's some background on how this little love fest began. In 1992, concerned about compatibility issues between various kinds of television sets and cable signals, Congress gave the FCC authority to require that cable companies offer basic tier on an unencrypted basis. But last October the Commission launched a proceeding suggesting that this provision be put to rest.

About 77 percent of cable subscribers have at least one digital cable set-top box or retail CableCARD device in their home, the agency noted. Various cable providers have received waivers from basic tier encryption over the years, most prominently Cablevision in New York City, and this has saved money via the decline in home visits.

The evidence thus shows, the FCC tentatively concluded, that:

where cable operators undertake appropriate consumer protection measures, the costs of retaining this rule (e.g., the need to schedule service appointments whenever a consumer subscribes to or cancels cable service as well as the expense and effect of cable operators' trucks on traffic and the environment) outweigh the benefits of retaining it (e.g., ensuring the continued utility of devices with clear-QAM tuners).

Concurrent action
The Boxee bottom line on this issue goes as so—total encryption of basic tier cable would deny consumers "innovative alternatives to traditional pay TV that rely on QAM compatibility, while increasing STB rental charges, energy costs, and dependency on MVPDs [multi-video program distributors]."

So the FCC shouldn't go the route "without taking concurrent action to increase compatibility of consumer devices with MVPD programming and ensure alternative means of access by non-MVPD devices to broadcast channel and public access programming."

The "concurrent action" that various advocacy groups want is AllVid, the FCC's proposal for a mandated industry-wide gadget that you could plug into your broadband router and connect to your cable TV provider, then watch online video and pay channels through a variety of AllVid-friendly devices. In a sense, Boxee is just that. What reform groups like Public Knowledge and the Media Access Project want the FCC to do is create an environment in which 1,000 Boxees could bloom. They're disappointed that after almost two years, the agency hasn't acted on the proposal.

Don't thwart the future
As for the de-encryption idea, both groups mostly support it, with some modifications. The FCC proposes that cable operators going this route (and almost all of them will) offer existing subscribers who have a basic-service non-set-top-box powered television the gear needed to descramble basic tier on one set without charge for a year. Subscribers who receive Medicaid would get the equipment needed to descramble basic tier on two sets without charge for five years from the date of encryption.

Both Public Knowledge and Media Access suggest the Lifeline/Linkup discount phone service program be added to the eligibility list. They also want the FCC's Final Order to make sure that consumers are given advance notice when their de-encryption period ends.

As for Boxee's protest, in a blog post, PK's John Bergmayer says he sympathizes with the company. "The Boxee Box is an early vision of the kind of next-generation video device that's needed to push the TV industry forward," he notes. "It's come from a private company, not one that has cut special deals with cable systems in every town," and provides features that set-top boxes don't offer.

"It would be perverse if the FCC actively thwarted this and similar devices," Bergmayer's commentary concludes.


The Q

join:2008-06-26
Collegeville, PA

and it's heating up a bit more now...

»www.multichannel.com/blog/BIT_RA···tion.php

The article is long plus the comments are good - check it out.


GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to The Q

said by The Q:

An interesting take on Clear QAM from Mutichannel News...

»www.multichannel.com/blog/BIT_RA···e_Do.php

Boxee: Who Needs Cable? Actually, We Do
Todd Spangler, Multichannel News

Interesting if you enjoy reading cable industry shill-pieces, sure. The guy knows who butters that rag's bread. The Ars article you linked is the one to read.

GTFan

join:2004-12-03
reply to The Q

said by The Q:

and it's heating up a bit more now...

»www.multichannel.com/blog/BIT_RA···tion.php

The article is long plus the comments are good - check it out.

And again, completely biased in cable's favor. No need to keep posting these Spangler stories here.

The Q

join:2008-06-26
Collegeville, PA

I thought the reader comments on the MC news site were worth reading though.



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5
reply to telcodad

said by telcodad:

Found this article on the FCC proposing to extend the current "must-carry" rules for local broadcast channels for another 3 years, but maybe for the last time:

DTV Must-Carry Rules Up for Review
FCC opens docket to on cable carriage of broadcast signals
TV Technology - February 13, 2012
»www.tvtechnology.com/article/dtv···w/211780

The FCC NPRM document can be seen here: »transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Release···18A1.pdf

An article on the Broadcasting & Cable site today on this:

Three More Years! FCC Wants to Extend Cable's Viewability Mandates
Also proposes extending small operator waiver of HD pass-through mandate
Broadcasting & Cable - February 14, 2012
»www.broadcastingcable.com/articl···ates.php

GTFan

join:2004-12-03

Here's a thought if the cableCos want to encrypt everything - the FCC could say ok, that's fine, but you have to embrace AllVid in return.

IMO there's little consumer benefit to encryption (mostly because TVs will all need power-sucking, heat-generating STBs), but a lot of cable benefit. Having them provide free HD DTAs in return should be mandatory, but I don't think that's enough especially since AllVid was already in the works.

And yeah, this should also apply to satellite, U-Verse, and FIOS.



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:5

A blog entry I came across today by Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist, on this issue.

What's interesting, is how he starts out with this statement:

"There are millions of homes and apartments around the country that have a TV connected to a cable but have no set-top box and no video service from their local cable provider. These TV viewers either moved into a home or apartment where the previous owner had cable and the wire was still lying around. Or they are getting their broadband Internet over cable. Either way, when you connect a cable directly to most modern TVs, you can get the broadcast channels in HD without a set top box. And in doing this, you are not breaking any laws. This is perfectly legal."

I don't think the cable companies would agree!

ClearQAM - What It Is And Why It Matters
By Fred Wilson, A VC - February 18, 2012
»www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/02/clearqa···ers.html



DrDrew
That others may surf
Premium
join:2009-01-28
SoCal
kudos:15
reply to GTFan

said by GTFan:

Here's a thought if the cableCos want to encrypt everything - the FCC could say ok, that's fine, but you have to embrace AllVid in return.

The biggest group that has to embrace AllVid and STICK with it is the CEA and in-turn consumers. Unless there is AllVid compatible equipment which consumers can get and have, AllVid is another deadend.

Letting cable encrypt everything will help drive demand for it. Otherwise you have another CableCARD...
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If it's important, back it up... twice. Even 99.999% availability isn't enough sometimes.