smooth wombat writes "In a move to stave off the FCC, cable operators have now agreed upon one standard to allow TVs and other gear that will work regardless of cable provider. This standard should allow the development of new services and features that rely on two-way communication over the cable network. The core of the matter is this: there are tvs and other devices which can receive digital programming but cannot talk back to the network. As a result, subscribers must rent out boxes from cable companies. This new standard should, in theory, do away with having to rent a box. There are two downsides to this standard. First, Sony has not signed onto the cable industry's idea and second, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants to put forth a proposal for a more open and competitive environment using a completely different standard."