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AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL
reply to Tomek

Re: CableCard

In theory, you would be correct. CableCard has a few limitations as well - no support for OnDemand and no direct support for SDC (switched digital video) are two of the first that come to mind. The SDV tuner may allow some CableCard enabled devices to operate correctly, but right now TiVo is the only major manufacturer that I have seen stating they will support the SDV tuner for existing customers.

OCAP (tru2way) is a lot more than just a cable box tuner inside of a TV, if you really want to know more about it, you can read the Wikipedia entries about the subject as a starting point and make your own choice.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tru2way
»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenCable_···Platform

Everybody, except for maybe the manufacturers and MSOs, want to get rid of the cable box. However, this unfortunately is a bit more than that and quite frankly not something I am exactly jumping on getting personally. As far as fees associated with the device, I haven't heard any announcement from Comcast either way. Last I read, there were "per subscriber" licensing fees involved with the technology so I don't know that I would exactly assume that you can have all the OCAP (tru2way) TVs you want without paying additional per device (outlet) fees. If it comes out to a fee (or outlet fee) for using your own purchased TV, it might not quite take off the way they are hoping.

OCAP (tru2way) is an attempt to turn your TV in to a multimedia platform similar to your computer, unfortunately in this case it is a platform that will still be controlled by the cable operator and their advertising partners.



Tomek
Premium
join:2002-01-30
Valley Stream, NY

Looks like OCAP is a part of CableCard 2 standard, so in the end is the same thing. We will see what will happen.


magnushsi

join:2002-11-06
Cedar Springs, MI
reply to AVonGauss

Some corrections: Cable cards have ALWAYS had support for onDemand and SDV. The devices that they are sometimes plugged into, do not. Due to reverse path tuners, etc. The recently released tuning adapter/resolvers are not for cable card deficiencies, but the host (Tivo) they are plugged into.

And once again, cable companies would LOVE to get rid of every cable box. Hence the network DVR development, etc. Cable boxes cost MSO's way more than they make in rental fees.



swhx7
Premium
join:2006-07-23
Elbonia
reply to AVonGauss

said by AVonGauss:

OCAP (tru2way) is a lot more than just a cable box tuner inside of a TV ... OCAP (tru2way) is an attempt to turn your TV in to a multimedia platform similar to your computer, unfortunately in this case it is a platform that will still be controlled by the cable operator and their advertising partners.

This is the problem with "Tru2way": it gives the cable company control of any device that supports the technology, including TV displays and DVRs.

The providers talk about it in public in terms of benefits to subscribers - compatibility and so forth. But once it is widely deployed, they'll start using it:
* to prevent recording
* to prevent changing the channel or muting the volume when advertisemnts are showing
* to restrict output resolutions
* to make the TV incompatible with competing providers' signals (or hold it hostage for a termination fee)
* and other abuses.

Some may see this and say, "no, that's not the intention" - such people have believed the hype. If the companies have power over your electronics, they will inevitably abuse it.

said by Wikipedia article on OCAP :
The Consumer Electronics Association and other groups argue OCAP is intended to block features that compete with cable company provided services and that consumers should be entitled to add, delete and otherwise control programs as on their personal computers.

And their televisions and recorders as well. The only acceptable arrangement is that each party (content provider and subscriber) is in control of the equipment it owns.

cornelius785

join:2006-10-26
Worcester, MA

i sense lots of FUD in the above post.


fiberguy
My views are my own.
Premium
join:2005-05-20
kudos:3

said by cornelius785:

i sense lots of FUD in the above post.
Why is that? .. is it because the truth gets in the way of your pre-mature celebration of freedom?

Nothing above he said wasn't theoretically true as some of it has already been discussed.

AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL

1 edit
reply to magnushsi

If you want to get that level, no, they really haven't had support for onDemand or SDV either. The CableCard initial specifications don't deal with the actual communications protocols but I believe instead just the encryption and decryption of the data. So, in a sense, yes, the device could theoretically allow decryption (to customer) and encryption (from customer) but if you never tell them how to send and agree to listen to such devices - what's the point? You can look at it as a deficiency of the host device if you like or more practically as a deficiency in the communications protocol standard, or as in this case, the lack there of.

Are you really trying to propose / advocate that cable operators are providing cable boxes at a loss? The box itself? No, not even in the slightest, they cover their costs and have a bit left over. If you count support of the devices, cost for inventory management, etc - you might have a point, but unfortunately OCAP (tru2way) is not going to get rid off that, just change how and where the money is spent to support essentially the same goal.

How does a network DVR help get rid of cable boxes? The OCAP (tru2way) method? That just offloads the burden of integration to CES manufacturers with support likely still a burden of the MSO and ultimately the subscriber. If a customer is not using OCAP (tru2way) device, they still have an external box. So, how does that help again?


AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL
reply to cornelius785

I can understand why you might think that, but unfortunately it really isn't, most of those "solutions" have already been proposed by different interest groups already.

This is an extreme analogy, but it is true, so here we go...

OCAP (tru2way) is similar to an Internet service provider stating you cannot connect your computer to the Internet using your IEEE 802.3 Ethernet connection unless you are running the (fill-in your favorite OS here, such as Microsoft Windows) operating system. It actually goes a bit farther as it mandates that essentially you also cannot control your installation of the operating system, the service provider will do that for you, as they see fit.

Why did I mention IEEE 802.3? It has a direct comparison to DocSIS which can and probably already is in most cases used to provide the physical layer for two-way data communication with subscriber and operator devices. All they had to do was sit down and agree to a common protocol (API), update some firmware and use the existing cable cards and we would have been done with this years ago.



footballdude
Premium
join:2002-08-13
Imperial, MO
reply to swhx7

I can believe the entertainment companies would like to go this route. I can also believe that the first company to implement such technology would quickly go out of business. Probably in the course of a couple of days. No way, no how, would John Q Public put up with stuff like that. Especially in an age where everything you want is available on the internet.

The first company that tries it gets smacked down. The rest get religion real quick.
--
It's a trick. Get an axe. - Ash


magnushsi

join:2002-11-06
Cedar Springs, MI
reply to AVonGauss

If you want to get to that level we can. Actually the cablecard does have a communication protocol that it uses to communicate. It supports TCP and UDP just fine. It does not have the hardware to support the actual path for communication, i.e. davic/docsis tuner. I'm not sure what communiction standard deficiency you refer to as TCP is pretty reliable, at least last time I checked. Lets not forget that cable cards have been in every newly manufactured and deployed cable box since 07/07 for most major MSO's. All supporting interactive services, VOD, SDV, IPPV, etc.

I absolutely 100% am saying that after the MSO purchases the box, stores it, manages it as inventory, employs techs to stage, clean/repair, etc. It is years before they come close to recouping the costs. Even at just the bare bones purchase price. A DVR purchased for $400, and yes most MSO's pay near that amount, you are talking 2+ yrs to recoup at $15 per month. I know some pay more, some pay less. But like I said, add in the additional "back end" support and you will see it's no $ maker like people believe.

It helps to get rid of the $400 DVR and can be replaced by a basic $150 SD or $200 HD box. So you are right, it does not help totally get rid of boxes, just reduces the initial costs and the complexity of the repairs/churn etc. I can't see how it's a burden if the CE manufactures are choosing to integrate these devices. The CE manufactures have been trying to get into the cable box business for years. Many have tried but have failed or pulled back for numerous reasons. It all depends on the services you want, if you need a box or a tru2way device. If you just want to watch digital television, no IPPV, VOD...a simple CC ready qam tuner TV fits the bill.


AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL

The communications protocol that I am referring to is an API built on top of the TCP session layer that would allow the subscriber's device to access basic functionality such as SDV handling instructions or even possibly VOD functionality. None of which requires a "platform", just a specification that all will honor. As that API or communications protocol does not or did not exist, yes, that is where I would say the deficiency lies. With the SDV tuner project, if they have not released a specification that a CE manufacturer can incorporate in to their devices, then it still doesn't exist - an external USB solution should only be for existing devices.

Yes, depending on the type of unit, it will take a cable operator a couple of years to recover the cost of the unit. But, there's a big difference in recouping an investment in infrastructure over a period of time versus providing a service or device at a loss. I agree its not the money maker that a lot of people like to think, more a cost of being able to provide the primary service in the fashion desired by the cable operators, but especially over a number of years they do make a bit of profit on the adventure.

I'm sure every cable operator has a different cost for the "boxes" and I definitely have not been privy myself to a copy of their purchase order. However, I can say based on other CE devices if a fairly large cable operator is paying the prices you stated for their boxes in volume, I think I would start bidding for other OEM manufacturers if I was that cable operator.

I don't want to speak on behalf of the CE vendors, but if you compare the proposal the CE vendors came up with versus OCAP (tru2way) there are a few distinct differences.


AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL
reply to footballdude

You mean like the flag in the Microsoft HTPC's that prevented recording of programs and was "accidentally" set by the broadcaster during the last year?



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

said by AVonGauss:

The communications protocol that I am referring to is an API built on top of the TCP session layer that would allow the subscriber's device to access basic functionality such as SDV handling instructions or even possibly VOD functionality.
Today, VoD is THE single most advanced protocol on a cable coax, not much basic about it. On the consumer end, SVD is VoD, the "length" of the "movie" or "show" is unlimited. VoD has huge encryption and back-talk verification between the physical hardware on both ends of the plant. A piece of software won't cut it. Tru2Way was a nice compromise for CE's to get their hands on a Rosetta stone and the MSO's to not have to replace all of their VoD servers. Tru2Way certification ensures that the encryption, identification, and cross-talk adherence's are met so that your neighbor can't steal VoD off your billing. As SVD doesn't require such scrutiny in security, a simple USB dongle can do the talking.

quote:
I'm sure every cable operator has a different cost for the "boxes" and I definitely have not been privy myself to a copy of their purchase order. However, I can say based on other CE devices if a fairly large cable operator is paying the prices you stated for their boxes in volume, I think I would start bidding for other OEM manufacturers if I was that cable operator.
You can't. If you purchased a Cisco head-end, you need a Cisco certified box. Cisco charges a very nice penny to those who want the keys to the safe. The other devil, Motorola, is slightly worse. $400 for 10,000 HD-DVR's ordered is a bargain, I guess prices have come down. You see, in order for two-way communication, the extremely proprietary language, protocol, and security with Motorola and Cisco is very, very expensive to license. Otherwise the head-end won't only ignore you, it will through you out (you'll loose all subscription keys except "clear QAM" and analog) Since they are part of CableLabs as well as MSO's and Verizon, they made sure to put a large stake for royalties in Tru2Way certifications, though they should be credited as being the mad scientists that actually got Tru2Way functional. So while Tru2Way will become cheaper, in the early years $400 extra per device is very low.

quote:
I don't want to speak on behalf of the CE vendors, but if you compare the proposal the CE vendors came up with versus OCAP (tru2way) there are a few distinct differences.
DCR+? Sure does.

Cable's take: »www.ncta.com/IssueBrief.aspx?con···2&view=2
quote:
How Does tru2way Differ from the ¡°DCR+¡± Proposal?

Unlike tru2way, the ¡°Digital Cable Ready Plus¡± (DCR+) proposal, which has been put forward by the Consumer Electronics Association, will not bring two-way plug and play devices to the market soon, if ever. It is based on specifications and standards that don¡¯t exist and can¡¯t be delivered to consumers by the February 2009 digital TV transition.

Other shortcomings of this approach include:

¡ö¡°DCR+¡± devices would be instantly archaic; they would only receive a subset of existing interactive cable services and no future ones.
¡öConsumer electronics (CE) companies offer absolutely no assurance that any CE company would ever actually build a ¡°DCR+¡± device ¨C or that any consumer would want one if it were built. Beyond cable operators, content owners and others have said DCR+ is a nonstarter for them.
¡öThe FCC¡¯s approach should be guided by practical lessons from the CE industry¡¯s failed experiment with one-way digital cable products, which are not able to receive interactive cable services. In 2002, CE companies insisted that consumers would want a one-way plug-and-play TV. Cable complied, but one-way sets failed in the market because consumers wanted interactive services.
CE's complaint to FCC on OCAP:
»fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retr···19613024

CableLabs beat them to market. Tru2Way exists, DCR+ still has the technical white-papers unwritten and "in negotiations".

AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL

Well, then I'll take away from this discussion that I should consider ourselves very lucky to have obtained a unified standard for DocSIS. Personally, I think I will just wait for the televisions with Ethernet jacks before upgrading...