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Boxee and Comcast Kiss and Make Up
Strike Agreement Over Basic Tier Encryption
by Karl Bode 09:14AM Friday Jun 29 2012
Back in February you might recall that Boxee warned about a cable industry effort to encrypt basic tiers of cable programming. That would have killed services like Boxee's Live TV dongle, which for $50 (on top of the $200 Boxee box) allows users to watch over-the-air and ClearQAM cable channels. Apparently Boxee and Comcast have been hashing out their differences and this week proposed a potential solution to the FCC: the creation of a new class of set top, the Ethernet – Digital Transport Adapter (or E-DTA). The E-DTA would deliver cable signals over a local network using the DLNA protocol, essentially being the most streamlined TV gateway server possible, allowing Boxee services to continue working even if the cable industry's encryption push is successful.

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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Still need a cable company STB for this solution.

Not surprised that cable industry is OK with this deal. It would require a cable company STB to be part of the solution and not just a cablecard plugged in to a 3rd party box.
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aaronwt
Premium
join:2004-11-07
Woodbridge, VA

$300????

When did the Boxee Box cost $300? I currently have three. I bought a launch one in November 2010 and paid $200 for it.
I see BestBuy sells new ones for $180 right now.

mnmark
Go Johnnies
Premium
join:2004-06-29
Saint Paul, MN

E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

I'm not terribly familiar with what the HD Home Run products are using for the protocol, but it is an ethernet based transmission of what comes through their tuners.

Is this E-DTA device basically a Comcast version of that?
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Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

From my understanding, yes.

darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

said by Camelot One:

From my understanding, yes.

But only for unencrypted digital channels.

Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

Actually the idea is that this new device would be able to receive the "Basic tier" encryption most cable companies want to move to. There would no longer be any completely unencrypted channels.

From a PR point, I can see why Comcast agreed to work on something like this. But since their goal in removing unencrypted channels is to prevent internet-only subscribers from getting free TV, I don't see them ever actually rolling this thing out. Not unless they build in some sort unique identifier that has to be activated on their end, but then its just another cable card HomeRun device.

AnonFTW

@rr.com

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

I'm a Time Warner internet only customer and they installed a filter to block ClearQAM channels.

Are enough people removing those filters and illegally receiving ClearQAM channels that Comcast feels it needs to develop this type of system?

darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

said by AnonFTW :

I'm a Time Warner internet only customer and they installed a filter to block ClearQAM channels.

QAM channels are not blocked with a filter. I suspect you don't understand what clear QAM signals are and/or that you don't actually have them available at your location.

Are enough people removing those filters and illegally receiving ClearQAM channels that Comcast feels it needs to develop this type of system?

Comcast isn't filtering clear (unencrpyted) QAM channels. These digital channels can be picked up now with a "simple" QAM tuner, something most HDTVs come with. There is nothing illegal about this.

They want to START encrypting them which would would then require customers to use some kind of set-top box to decrypt them (just like you need a set-top box to get all the other, vast majority of encrypted QAM channels).

Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

Actually, the Anon is right. Time warner has a physical filter that they install on internet-only lines that blocks MOST of the unencrypted channels. Here in Austin you can still pick up the SD locals and a few others, but the filters block the HD locals and most of the other "standard" tier channels. I think what makes it through is basically their "life-line" lineup. (9 channels I think) If a person removes that filter from the line, they are able to receive most of the standard tier, including the HD locals. (50+ channels)

But yes Anon, that is one of the reasons they want to move to encryption. It allows them to stop internet-only accounts from getting any TV service, and increases their box rental fees for everyone else.

darcilicious
Cyber Librarian
Premium
join:2001-01-02
Forest Grove, OR
kudos:4

Re: E-DTA vs something like HD Homerun?

Well then I stand (er sit?) corrected, thank you.

kpfx

join:2005-10-28
San Antonio, TX
You hit the nail on the head. Time Warner uses a physical filter at the tap that blocks all but he 500 MHz range (where the downstream sits) and the low band upstream frequencies.

Although the only problem with this approach is the age old problem of people removing the traps or techs / contractors not installing them. So moving to a plant encrypted system would solve that problem and eliminate the cost of the traps.
sarcasm2k1

join:2009-03-26
Salt Lake City, UT
said by darcilicious:

QAM channels are not blocked with a filter. I suspect you don't understand what clear QAM signals are and/or that you don't actually have them available at your location.

Any carrier (QAM, Analog or docsis) will be blocked by a filter. In my market we install a "video trap" on any customer without tv service. They block frequencies from 42 Mhz to (about) 500 Mhz. The intent is to block the legacy analog channels we still broadcast but they also block about half the digital channels (some clear some encrypted).

Most internet only customers could put in a split and get a large number of channels. And it's not really stealing unless you remove that filter or hook up a hacked cable box.

As a technician I'd like to see all channels encrypted because filters are a pain, but the MSOs want to encrypt them to ensure they can monetize every TV.

tmh

@verizon.net

Another reason to go OTA

Still unencrypted.
sandman_1

join:2011-04-23
11111

Re: Another reason to go OTA

That and I thought the FCC had a requirement that forbid encrypting ClearQAM? How is Comcast even getting away with it in the first place?
Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27

Re: Another reason to go OTA

said by sandman_1:

That and I thought the FCC had a requirement that forbid encrypting ClearQAM? How is Comcast even getting away with it in the first place?

There is a waiver that a cable operator can get from FCC based on various reasons. For example CableVision got a wavier to encrypt everything in Bronx and Brooklyn in NY based on some data that theft of service was getting out of hand.
big_e

join:2011-03-05
There was an exemption that would allow them to do so if the securing the cable plant in certain franchises against theft of service is impractical. Cable companies now consider installing traps or disconnecting taps too expensive so a an exception to a rule that was only originally for certain circumstances will now be applied nationwide.

At my new house they never even bothered to disconnect the tap. They will simply mail an installation kit when you reactivate service.

cast sucks

@dsl.net

rent price??

Will it cost $3-$8 /mo to rent it and likely with only 1 tuner
big_e

join:2011-03-05

Going to be costly and limited.

I am willing to bet that this new E-DTA technology won't give permission to stream HD signals unless one has paid the comcast "HDTV technology fee" for an additional $10/mo. The E-DTA will probably be limited to a single stream at a time, and may be considered an extra outlet so add another 7-10 dollars per month. How DRM encumbered the DLNA protocol and whether or not open source applications like MythTV will be blocked form using it remains to be seen. It still doesn't change the fact that everyone else who uses ClearQAM will be completely screwed once Comcast starts encrypting the locals.

The good news is if the E-DTA becomes more than just vaporware it could be proof of concept to the FCC that the model of having one cable box per TV or DVR is now obsolete and streaming video over a LAN via to a customer owned client device is now a viable option and should be mandatory to provide to subscribers as an option.
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
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Need to update Sec 17 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1992

The Government needs to update Sec 17 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1992 to include digital cable. In the Golden Age of Cable Television after the Consumer Protection Act of 1992 was passed all consumers had to do was purchase a cable ready television or VCR and they could receive all basic cable channels. The system that served my home used traps to trap out the premium channels that the customer did not subscribe to, so I could receive HBO without additional equipment.

The question is if the Digital Transport Adapter will stream all encrypted basic digital channels to any connected digital device or will one be required for each boxee. This house has a CATV outlet in each bedroom, family room and activity room. Before Comcast changed to encrypted digital for all channels, any cable ready set could receive the 70 extended basic channels without additional equipment. Now Comcast requires a digital terminal adapter in order to receive channels other than the local OTA Network Channels. Comcast even encrypts the local PBS station. Comcast provided only two digital terminal adapters with no monthly fee, because I already have two HD DVR's. The price list states that if the customer orders more digital terminal adapters than those provided at no monthly charge, Comcast will charge $2.00 for all provided digital terminal adapters, even those were provided at no charge if one orders one more than the provided two adapters.
amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
Reviews:
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

Re: Need to update Sec 17 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1992

Good point - I miss the "cable ready" days.

Something needs to be done so that every TV doesn't need a freaking box. Perhaps TV makers need to include "addressable" connectivity in their tuners or something - print the MAC address (or whatever it needs) on the back, make it visible in the menu, etc. Couldn't be that hard to do, and it'd simplify everything for everybody. If they're going down this road, we need a better solution for the future - adding more boxes for everything under the sun is unwanted, and unnecessary.

BoteMan

join:2002-11-11
Fort Lauderdale, FL

1 recommendation

Re: Need to update Sec 17 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1992

said by amungus:

Something needs to be done so that every TV doesn't need a freaking box.

Kill your television.
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amungus
Premium
join:2004-11-26
America
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great

One more damn device. Just what everyone wants

I rather enjoy my media center with clear QAM. Guess that eventually, all cable companies want to scramble everything
Hopefully, by then I'll go with some kind of new tuner that I own and don't have to rent. Wish that one could also buy the stupid cable card too - I'd rather not rent anything at all, ever again, after having built my own media center.

tim_k
Buttons, Bows, Beamer, Shadow, Kasey
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join:2002-02-02
Stewartstown, PA
kudos:40

Boxee

I'd install it on an old PC if Netflix still worked with the PC version. As it is, I'll stick with Roku for now.

ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

Since this will be ethernet based...

Does that mean it will require internet service from Comcast and will it count against the cap??

JusSayin

@unitechsys.com

Boxee sells out, seriously

Boxee was leading the fight against the encryption of the QAM channels, and instead jumped into bed with Comcast at the drop of a zipper.

So much for cutting the cord.