Satnews Daily
December 31st, -0001

IMS Research... An Adversarial FCC Alignment (SatBroadcasting™)

In the details of its “Recommendation 4.12” of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC is taking an unnecessarily adversarial position with pay-TV operators (MVPDs, or multichannel video programming distributors in its parlance), who are forecast to deploy more than 30 million open-standard without the FCC’s intervention. Stephen Froehlich, a senior analyst with IMS Research’s consumer electronics research group, notes that “Without intervention from the FCC, many US pay-TV operators are already moving to adopt the pay-TV gateway model for whole-home DVR services. In my interactions with them, major US operators have expressed positive reactions to partnering with established CE companies to reduce their set-top box costs or eliminate set-top boxes entirely."

“However," he continues, "the FCC seems determined, as it has in previous rounds of regulation, to take an adversarial position with the pay-TV operators instead of harnessing operators’ inherent interest to move away from expensive, proprietary technologies when those technologies add no value. If the regulation is implemented exactly as it appears in “Recommendation 4.12” of the national broadband plan, the operators, who are obligated to increase shareholder value, will have little choice other than to fight the FCC on every step of implementation and to constantly seek exemptions from the new rule, denying US consumers the value of open-standard secure video networking.

“For the first time, the FCC has an opportunity to harness a powerful technology trend to enable innovation in CPE. This time, I sincerely hope that the commission will realize that increasing operators’ costs does not benefit consumers and that the rules as proposed could deny the potential cost savings of highly-integrated broadband pay-TV gateways to operators and consumers alike.”

Froehlich concludes, “I am confident that if the FCC simply certifies the gateway approach as a valid way to meet the “separable security” requirement behind CableCARD and further frees open-standard decoders from the requirement to have IEEE-1394 interfaces while allowing operators to require that decoders support of a fully open-standard remote user interface protocol of their choosing that there will be more than enough incentives for most US pay-TV operators to adopt open-standard TV gateways without need for mandate or enforcement.”