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Television Media Entertainment

New Agreement May End the Cable Box 216

Posted by kdawson
from the but-you'll-have-to-buy-yet-another-new-tv dept.
esocid clues us to news that Sony and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association have come to agreement on the way forward for two-way TV without set-top boxes. The actual agreement was not made public, pending review by other members of the Consumer Electronics Association, and as a result the coverage of the agreement is uniformly pretty incoherent. The background is that the NCTA and the CEA submitted competing proposals to the FCC on how to handle two-way, interactive TV services. None of the articles I turned up made clear what the future of the CableCard is to be. This was an interim solution to allow competition in set-top box manufacture, but its adoption has been plagued with problems. "Sony and the cable companies — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, and Bright House Networks — agreed to adopt: the Java-based 'tru2way' solution powered by CableLabs; new streamlined technology licenses; and new ways for all those involved to cooperate in the development of tru2way technology at CableLabs."
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New Agreement May End the Cable Box

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  • Species traitors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:05AM (#23568227) Journal
    new streamlined technology licenses;

    Engineer: Faster, cheaper, more reliable, more efficient.

    Businessman: Slightly less annoying, but still entirely arbitrary, restrictions on how you can what you already paid for.

    Next time you wonder "what the hell has gone wrong us as a species", ask yourself which of those two run the world.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Next time you wonder "what the hell has gone wrong us as a species", ask yourself which of those two run the world.
      Businessmen still can't undo the Internet, broadband, P2P or torrents. Sure they can do a lot to cripple the competition but ultimately there's very few superior technologies they're able to actually bury.
  • by atamagabakkaomae (1241604) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:16AM (#23568261) Homepage
    without set-top boxes

    Set-top boxes have been gone for ages..
    flat-screen TVs are just too thin for that
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:17AM (#23568267) Homepage Journal
    A lot of cable companies rely on the ignorance of the average consumer to put cable boxes out there. Cable boxes are a way of insuring higher rates. If they have to have a box to watch TV, then the company can charge per box. There's more than one cable company that doesn't even have analog TV going over their cable anymore with lame excuses to the customer sighting imaginary technical reasons such as "you can't do regular analog cable once you deploy digital" or "The FCC says we have to do digital now" (that's broadcast, not cable). A lot of them refuse to do QAM, etc.... on the same basis so you have to pay for the proprietary box and lock in.

    A standard is good for consumers, not for cable companies.
    • by jmnormand (941909) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:47AM (#23568417)
      I have a strange suspicion that a standard decided upon by Sony and the cable companies will be good for no one...
    • Yes, the cable companies love to rip on consumers. I've got a Sony TV with a built-in OTA and cable tuners with a cable card slot. Both Comcast and Charter claimed they do not know what I am talking about when I ask for a card for my TV's tuner. Both services had install people who also claimed they didn't know what I was talking about even while showing them the slot on the back of the TV.

      I find it hard to believe that three people (Comcast sent two monkeys to set up my last service, Charter sent one the y
    • ...I only subscribed to the basic package. My VCR had a cable tuner and all was well. But, that isn't two-way.

      Frankly, I don't know if I like the idea of cable company knowing what channel I was watching at every moment of the day. From a marketers PoV, that sort of the data would be far more valuable than Neilson, as it would be a representation of the literally the entire viewing audience.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @08:42AM (#23569189) Homepage
      That was then, now it's about control. I've been out of the Biz long enough and my NDA's have expired so I can talk about it.

      Cable companies DESPERATELY want to force cable boxes on everyone for 3 main reasons.

      1 - it allows them to cut their installer workforce by 2/3rd's. if you can leave the CATV connection to every home live and use cable boxes to disconnect service you save way more money and can increase profits and executive salaries.

      2 - It allows demographic data collection. right now they pay Nielsen and Scarborough for Demo data. this is expensive and old data (last month, Last quarter). By forcing the use of cable boxes I can gather and monitor demographic data hour by hour and minute by minute. I can tell advertisers that 65,000 people in the #23 market saw their ad. This allows my sales people to pressure the customer (not you, people that BUY ad's are the customer you are the product) to buy more.

      3 - Content protection. By going cable box only it eliminates these damned Tivo's and other PVR's thjat allow commercial skip. Fast Forward is OK because you still view the commercial and the company's name get's imprinted. with more and more content companies buying voting shares in cable companies they also want to protect their assets from you damned consumers.

      THOSE are the only reason they want the cable box forced upon everyone and in that order. They will save a CRAPLOAD by getting rid of a huge chunk of their workforce. and then being able to generate their own demographic data instead of buying it is next in line.

      every bit of it is about making them more money and none of it is about you.

      • by pecosdave (536896)
        "Marketing" is killing entertainment in this country (perhaps the world). I'm seriously at a loss to try to think of something that someone hasn't tried to attach marketing to. The earth [cherryflava.com] the sky [flickr.com], the water [coastad.com], the very air we breath [xings.us].

        I turn on the TV, I'm assaulted by ads, I browse the web, I'm assaulted by ads, I drive my car, I have at least two advertisements in my field of view at all times, I sit at home with my doors locked they call me on the phone or knock on the door. If I pay to watch a movie with
        • ***The above comment was brought to you by IRiver. Remember, the next time you get sick of ads, get an IRiver. IRiver will make your life better than you ever though it could be. IRiver is guaranteed to reduce the amount of marketing you take in. IRiver should not be used by people with liver or kidney problems. IRiver should not be used while driving, until you have used it long enough to know how IRiver will affect you. Use IRiver responsibly.
      • For those that don't want two-way communication, they need only add a CableCard to their recent TVs. Older sets are stuck with cable boxes, but cable companies must, under FCC mandate, allow third-party systems like TiVo to access their networks, provided they use an authenticating technology (CableCard or tru2way, in this case). I believe that even the new cable boxes being bought by cable companies are required to use these technologies, though they can still use older inventory to replace existing inst
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:18AM (#23568281)
    It looks like those of you who wanted a brand-new Internet might just get it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You guys actually *watch* TV when you have the internet??
  • Does it run linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FlatWhatson (802600) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:33AM (#23568343)
    Seriously though... this opencable platform [java.net] has some undeniable hacking potential. Replace a MythTV box with an opencable compatible media center application... in Java! Somebody should do up some perl bindings...
    • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @07:37AM (#23568683)

      The short answer: No.

      The long answer: Devices that accept CableCards and their bi-directional successor must be certified/keyed by CableLabs, the cable industry's R&D house. Part of that certification process requires that the entire device chain meets their security and DRM requirements; it's very similar to how BluRay players require all devices in a digital connection chain to be HDCP compliant. Anyhow, a homebrew application like MythTV will never be certified because someone could just program MythTV to ignore the DRM, and I don't think I need to explain CableLabs' problem with this. Without certification you don't have a key, and without a key the next device in chain won't pass you the data.

      Now this doesn't entirely preclude this from being used with Linux, someone like Motorola for example could build a set-top box using Linux that would run all of this, but that's as close to a "yes" answer as you'd get. Cable devices will need to be a Trusted Platform to be certified.

      • by jone1941 (516270)
        Actually this is a slightly different solution. The java based system is exactly that, java based. This is a new technology designed to replace CableCards. While any encryption tech really pisses me off I have to agree with the grandparent that a software based system running in Java is a slightly better jumping off point than a CableCard. This is a system that incorporates "Downloadable Security" rather than embedded security in the card itself which seems like it has more potential to be hacked (just
      • by Thelasko (1196535)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Access_Content_System
        A trusted platform that's unhackable? [wikipedia.org] I think I've heard that somewhere else.
      • by Thelasko (1196535)

        Cable devices will need to be a Trusted Platform to be certified.
        A trusted platform that's unhackable? I think I heard that somewhere else. [wikipedia.org]
        end sarcasm
        Time for another cup of coffee.
  • by Stormwave0 (799614) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @06:54AM (#23568445)

    The history of the CableCard is long and confusing. Particularly because the cable companies don't want you to adopt it. Then they lose their cable box renting fee. 2truway is just the next step in the CableCard evolution.

    Originally, CableCards only had one directional transmission capability. This prevented services such as on demand, pay per view, and guide data. At least, that's what the cable companies wanted you to think. In actuality, the hardware (developed by independent companies) for the cards supported 2-way transmissions. The hardware complied with the CableCard 2.0 specification but the software for each card did not. The cable companies didn't want manufacturers to use their own software in the boxes/televisions/DVRs that would be using the cable cards. No, the cable companies wanted them to use OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP). Of course this isn't an open platform at all.

    Picture your Tivo now, with its great recording software. Compare that to the crappy software your cable company uses on their DVR. Well, the OCAP part of the CableCard 2.0 standard requires all hardware be running the cable company's software. In other words, your Tivo would have to be running Comcast/Cox/whoever's horrid interface instead of the standard one. At least, that's how I understand it.

    Consumer electronics companies didn't like this at all. So they fought and protested, allowing the CableCard standard in general to slowly die. That's why most new TVs now don't even have card slots.

    CableLabs eventually realized that this just wouldn't work. So, they decided "hey, let's just rename OCAP to something cooler." Thus, Tru2way was born from the remnants of OCAP, a subset of the CableCard 2.0 spec. The cable companies also lightened up on the licensing restrictions for the software. Now, the Tru2way standard is getting much more support. Why? I'm really not sure. All I know is that more television companies are saying they'll be adding support for it (and thus cablecards) in their upcoming television models.

    I think that's a fairly accurate summary of the history of CableCard and tru2way. No, this will not replace CableCards. Actually, this is just another step in the process towards adopting them.


    Frankly, my only concern is that I'm allowed to use my open source MythTV box with a CableCard in order to record shows off encrypted QAM channels like Discovery HD. Currently, I cannot do this due to the ridiculous certified media center PC and Vista requirement. If anyone knows a way around this, please tell me. The analog cutoff is looming and I don't want to lose my recording ability.

    • Frankly, my only concern is that I'm allowed to use my open source MythTV box with a CableCard in order to record shows off encrypted QAM channels like Discovery HD. Currently, I cannot do this due to the ridiculous certified media center PC and Vista requirement. If anyone knows a way around this, please tell me. The analog cutoff is looming and I don't want to lose my recording ability.

      We can only hope that this will eventually become a reality (though I have very low expectations on the matter). Fortunately, most cable companies appear to be planning to maintain analog cable for at least a few years after the broadcast DTV transition, as long as HD isn't that important to you.

    • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Informative)

      by rsmith-mac (639075)

      The parent really could use a bump to the top of the conversation. The bit about OCAP/tru2way is the critical bit of information out of this announcement.

      When Comcast wins, we all lose. This agreement signifies that the CEA has gone ahead and finally agreed to CableLabs terms; compliant devices will have to run the local cable company's Java middleware. This severely limits what 3rd party cable tuners can do, it will allow manufacturers to add functionality that doesn't relate directly to manipulating the

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tealwarrior (534667)

      Picture your Tivo now, with its great recording software. Compare that to the crappy software your cable company uses on their DVR. Well, the OCAP part of the CableCard 2.0 standard requires all hardware be running the cable company's software. In other words, your Tivo would have to be running Comcast/Cox/whoever's horrid interface instead of the standard one. At least, that's how I understand it.

      ... I think that's a fairly accurate summary of the history of CableCard and tru2way. No, this will not replace CableCards. Actually, this is just another step in the process towards adopting them.

      You summary is mostly accurate (and much more so than most other comments).

      The Tivo software that Comcast has rolled out in Boston is actually built on the OCAP stack so you won't necessarily be stuck with the cable companies crappy interface. Reviews of that service have been mostly positive so it appears that the OCAP/tru2way platform is flexible enough to built a reasonable interface. This should also allow better integration with VOD service as well as switch digital which have been the problems

    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Frankly, my only concern is that I'm allowed to use my open source MythTV box with a CableCard in order to record shows off encrypted QAM channels like Discovery HD. Currently, I cannot do this due to the ridiculous certified media center PC and Vista requirement.

      this will NEVER HAPPEN. They will never ever allow it.

      Also the "analog cutoff" is for OTA only and you can get MythTV ATSC tuners right now. AS for Cable, your only choice forever and ever will be NTSC recordings of what the box records.

      Welcome t
    • by dreamt (14798)

      Picture your Tivo now, with its great recording software. Compare that to the crappy software your cable company uses on their DVR. Well, the OCAP part of the CableCard 2.0 standard requires all hardware be running the cable company's software. In other words, your Tivo would have to be running Comcast/Cox/whoever's horrid interface instead of the standard one. At least, that's how I understand it.

      Actually, I believe its pretty much the opposite. Although nobody quite knows whether Tivo's tru2way support w

    • by AiY (175830) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @09:37AM (#23569709) Homepage

      Originally, CableCards only had one directional transmission capability. This prevented services such as on demand, pay per view, and guide data.

      So, being a developer who writes software for tru2way stacks, let me point out where my understanding differs.

      The purpose of the CableCard was to separate the specifics of how pay-per-view, subscription channels (like HBO) and encryption from the cable box. This would allow things, like the next HD TiVo box with the 2 CableCards, to handle subscription channels without a settop box. Guide data is not tied to the CableCard in any way.

      The fact is, the cable industry moves slowly, and if you think about it, it has too because of the millions of installed devices. One can't simply swap out 10 million of anything with updated hardware without significant cost. So the first versions of the CableCard spec had 1-way (broadcast only) capabilities, while the next generation had 2-way and then 2-way with multiple simultaneous connections. Not all these versions were deployed, but there were specs, transitions testing and so on associated with each revision. Frankly I think that when the form-factor was chosen, the technology could not fit all the hardware for 2-way communication and multiple connections into the device, which caused the phased development.

      The hardware complied with the CableCard 2.0 specification but the software for each card did not.

      The CableCard is a hardware/software combination that provides a specified interface to the proprietary network encoding that the cable companies run on. The proprietary nature is not from the cable company, but the hardware vendors that provide that equipment. The CableCard provides a bridge, through the CableCard standard, to that network. This allows the TiVo to run all the TiVo software (just like the original boxes) but also directly access subscription channels if you've subscribed with them. The cable company then talks to the CableCard to control what channels are authorized and the TiVo talks to the CableCard to get a decrypted stream for authorized channels.

      The cable companies didn't want manufacturers to use their own software in the boxes/televisions/DVRs that would be using the cable cards. No, the cable companies wanted them to use OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP). Of course this isn't an open platform at all.

      Picture your Tivo now, with its great recording software. Compare that to the crappy software your cable company uses on their DVR. Well, the OCAP part of the CableCard 2.0 standard requires all hardware be running the cable company's software. In other words, your Tivo would have to be running Comcast/Cox/whoever's horrid interface instead of the standard one. At least, that's how I understand it.

      This part is where you are way way off. The tru2way (OCAP) specification is a Java VM and library. That technology allows a company (like TiVo) to write their own Java applications that do what they like, look the way they want etc etc.

      The difference from what TiVo (or the cable companies) do now and under tru2way, is that tru2way the hardware is replaced with a Java VM. That Java VM is then implemented by whatever hardware vendor (TV, TiVo box, set top, DVD player). The app runs in the Java VM. This way the cable application displays guide data, or TiVo's functionality, could be written in Java and run on any compliant hardware.

      Something that gets left out is that tru2way requires CableCards to work, in the same way the TiVo box required CableCards to plug directly into a digital network.

      Consumer electronics companies didn't like this at all. So they fought and protested, allowing the CableCard standard in general to slowly die. That's why most new TVs now don't even have card slots.

      That's a little off-base. The CEA wants the same access it had when everyone had analog cable - that you could

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ivan256 (17499)
        Heh... Written as if by a weapons-system engineer that doesn't realize his work is designed to kill people...

        I'll just comment on one choice quote:

        The cable companies like that better too because the thing that has to be installed on the client side is small and may not even require a cable employee to install.

        The licensing agreements for CableCARD (which all cable companies are required to agree to essentially by FCC mandate) requires that a technician install the card. This is to prevent the card from bei

    • by ivan256 (17499) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @10:24AM (#23570307)
      Many things you said are wrong. They're wrong because you bought into the bill of goods the cable companies sold you, even though you think you saw through it.

      The history of the CableCard is long and confusing. Particularly because the cable companies don't want you to adopt it. Then they lose their cable box renting fee. 2truway is just the next step in the CableCard evolution.


      This isn't entirely true. Cable companies still rent out the cable cards, so they don't lose the fee. The real reason they don't want you to adopt it is that they want you to be trapped in their "interactive TV" system, instead of seeing somebody else's screens.

      Originally, CableCards only had one directional transmission capability. This prevented services such as on demand, pay per view, and guide data. At least, that's what the cable companies wanted you to think. In actuality, the hardware (developed by independent companies) for the cards supported 2-way transmissions. The hardware complied with the CableCard 2.0 specification but the software for each card did not.


      This also misses the big point that most people miss when it comes to CableCARD 2.0. Specifically that there is no reason for the card to support bi-directional communications for any of the services that the cable companies claim it will be used for. Switched digital video, video on demand, pay-per-view, etc... Those can all be supported with any device at all doing the transmitting. Since the CableCARD is supposedly a decryption device primarily, there's no reason that outgoing communications need to pass through the card. This is especially true since in a CableCARD 2.0 bi-directional device, the DOCSIS hardware is in the CableCARD compliant device, and not in the card itself. The only reasons to have a bi-directional CableCARD are so the cable company can choose what data to send back (things a third party box might not choose to send, like what channels you're watching, etc..), and to lock you into their screens. A bi-directional CableCARD is essentially a PCMCIA form-factor cable box.

      Frankly, my only concern is that I'm allowed to use my open source MythTV box with a CableCard in order to record shows off encrypted QAM channels like Discovery HD. Currently, I cannot do this due to the ridiculous certified media center PC and Vista requirement. If anyone knows a way around this, please tell me. The analog cutoff is looming and I don't want to lose my recording ability.


      This will never happen. The cable industry has tricked the FCC into a back-door in the integration ban. You will have a cable box, but it will be tiny, and unlike old-style cable boxes they can now also dictate what you can attach it to. This is why this new spec is suddenly getting more support. They are claiming more control over their customer's use of their signal, while claiming openness.
    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      The analog cutoff is looming and I don't want to lose my recording ability.

      I have two words for you: "analog hole". Now that cheap analog HD recorders have hit the market, it'll only be a short time before MythTV supports them, at which point there will be little they can do, unless they start removing component output from their decoder boxes.
  • Two non-flamebait Java-related stories in a row? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE REAL SLASHDOT??

    No, but seriously. First Bluray wins and now this. There must be some wailing and gnashing of teeth going on at Redmond now.
  • by Gewalt (1200451)
    I already canceled my cable tv service, and life is just so much better without it. (no, I did not switch to FiOS TV or to satellite either) TV sucks more than an MMO.
  • Java based? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by gilesjuk (604902)
    While Java is good for many things, low cost embedded devices don't typically run Java. It's not the best language for real time systems.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Millions (Is it billions by now?) of mobile phones run Java.. so low cost devices most definately do.

      Real time systems are too time critical for these high level languages that are around these days, but that's not exactly news and is unrelated to the article surely? Unless you're under the impression that 'interactive' TV services are somehow realtime?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Skapare (16644)

      Lots of stuff runs Java just fine. Your DVD player runs Java. You should worry less about it being Java based and worry more about what the Java programmers have made it do at the behest of companies known to install rootkits, intercept selected packets, and in general spy on everyone.

      • by jedidiah (1196)
        DVD players don't "run Java just fine".

        This is the crap that inspired me to never watch a pristine DVD ever
        again and only watch stuff that's been ripped and stripped down to
        just the bare content (without any of the other BS).

        DVD's were a step backwards in this regard.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @07:33AM (#23568667)
    I do not have Digital Cable. The reason is I don't want to use a Digital cable box to get cable because I have a MythTV PVR and the cable box would ruin that. So I need to ask, is there a ATSC based Digital cable standard that my MythTV PVR can use to get the unencrypted Digital channels from the cable company? Is this availible as part of say, a VHS VCR?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rsmith-mac (639075)
      You want an HDHomeRun [silicondust.com], it will tune unencrypted (ClearQAM) channels and works with MythTV. Keep in mind however that cable companies usually encrypt all but the national networks, you won't get anything besides what you can already get with an antenna or infomercial/shopping networks that pay for their placement.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @07:40AM (#23568695)
    The problem is far worse than 99.9% of the public realizes yet. Why? SDV (Switched Digital Video) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_digital_video [wikipedia.org]

    It is being rolled out even now, and creating chaos for users of cable cards, TiVo, Media Centers, Myth, etc. Why is this a nightmare? Because SDV is *INCOMPATIBLE* with *EVERYTHING* out there that doesn't belong to the cable company. I bought a new HD TiVo months ago and it worked great. I had access to everything I wanted, and in ways far superior to the Cox-rented "DVR". Then Cox suddenly, without warning, without TELLING anyone, without even training their support staff, rolled out SDV and all the new HD channels were suddenly unavailable to anyone that didn't have "approved" Cox-owned equipment.

    I was FURIOUS! SDV totally defeats the ENTIRE purpose of cable cards. There was nothing TiVo could do about it. And I wasted countless hours on the phone with clueless "support" techs at Cox and with them coming to my house. Their only suggestion? Throw away all my equipment and rent the "wonderful" Cox "DVR". And after weeks of this nightmare, Cox suddenly stopped using SDV on the new HD channels and everything returned to normal. Why? Who knows? They wouldn't say. Perhaps a lot of people like me were complaining? (Every person using anything with a cable card was affected). Perhaps Cox even had problems with their own equipment.

    But one thing is for sure, it is not going away... I am positive it will be back. Other cable companies are either experimenting with it now or have already ruined the experience of many of their customers by implementing it "permanently".

    Supposedly TiVo is working with the cable companies to develop yet another "box" that would sit between the TiVo and the cable to address SDV. But how much will THAT cost? What other problems will it cause? And that does nothing at all for non-TiVo users.

    The real kicker is that Cox didn't even really NEED to implement SDV, there was plenty of bandwidth to add all the new HD channels (as they have now proved). And if they were running low on bandwidth, why didn't they put only some of the obscure/(IMHO "stupid") channels on SDV, not things like History Channel, National Geographic, Discover Channel, etc?

    My advice? Email your cable company's PR departments NOW and tell them you do not want SDV, especially in its current form. And if nothing else, they should act responsibly and tell all current AND FUTURE customers, EXACTLY what SDV means.
    • There's nothing inherently evil about SDV. Going forward it is the future of cable systems, it saves a ton of bandwidth by not transmitting channels that no one is watching. Cable companies are already feeling the bandwidth pressure of HD and analog channels; they want to carry the former but can't afford to get rid of the latter (and the customer base it supplies) quite yet, which results in situations like Comcast stuffing 3 HD channels in to the space for 2. SDV is going to be rolled out as soon as the t

      • But in a big area SDV will be able to save them that much if there are a lot of people with 2 or more HD tv's or they like use there DRV a lot.
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        > There's nothing inherently evil about SDV.

        Sure there is. They are intentionally destroying considerable investments in consumer equipment.

        Changing standards is an inherently destructive process.

        The industry needs to get it's collective head out of it's ass and settle down on
        something so that "normal consumers" can have some hope of not being screwed as
        soon as they buy something new and expensive.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          Changing standards is an inherently destructive process.

          Unless you control the DSTB population, in which case you can just distribute a new software load that includes a switched digital client.

          Yet another reason why cable companies love DSTBs so much... it's a controlled platform that they can alter as needed.
    • My advice? Email your cable company's PR departments NOW and tell them you do not want SDV, especially in its current form. And if nothing else, they should act responsibly and tell all current AND FUTURE customers, EXACTLY what SDV means.

      That's not going to stop them. As you cited earlier in your post, only a minuscule number of people know about this. Not many people are going to care, also, as the vast majority of subscribers just use the DVR that comes with the service.

      It's been shown these people are willing to piss off customers in droves, with little worry, as most people are so addicted to their Shark Week and cable modem-- they will likely be sticking around even after throwing a few fits with their support staff.

      After many years o

    • by dreamt (14798)

      I was FURIOUS! SDV totally defeats the ENTIRE purpose of cable cards. There was nothing TiVo could do about it. And I wasted countless hours on the phone with clueless "support" techs at Cox and with them coming to my house. Their only suggestion? Throw away all my equipment and rent the "wonderful" Cox "DVR". And after weeks of this nightmare, Cox suddenly stopped using SDV on the new HD channels and everything returned to normal. Why? Who knows? They wouldn't say. Perhaps a lot of people like me were comp

      • it is actually quite necessary to get more channels out of existing bandwidth.

        it is actually quite necessary to get more channels out of local monopolies that feel they do not have to re-invest their profits upgrading infrastructure

        There, provided the obligatory Slashdot post fixing service for ya!
        • by dreamt (14798)
          Not that I love Comcast and their Comcraptic service, but this is also happening in areas where they are not monopolies, and they actually do try upgrade in these areas. We have 2 cable providers and FIOS and yet somehow, their bandwidth is still not infinite.

          BTW, implementing SDV is in fact upgrading their infrastructure. Its not free for them. And it makes sense. Why send out 500 channels when only 50 are being used?

          There, provided the obligatory Slashdot post fixing service right back at ya.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I had the same sort of thing happen. After owning a Tivo for years, I gave it up when I finally got digital cable. It had a great interface (much better than any cable company DVR), but it was useless to me without the ability to access the digital channels. Then I heard that they had released an HD Tivo that was reasonably priced and had cablecard support. So I got it, only to find that it didn't support several of my favorite HD channels (because of SDV). I regrettfully returned it that week. When I cance
  • Why is this good? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by szquirrel (140575) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @07:47AM (#23568745) Homepage
    Seriously, how is this a win? I've had a perfectly adequate TV for years and years now, and three or four different cable boxes in the same time frame. Each cable box has had better features that I wanted, but I've never felt the urge to replace my TV. What's so great about a system that would force me to replace BOTH devices when I only wanted to upgrade one? I mean, it would cost me a lot of money--

    Ah. I get it now.
  • Basically you had the cable companies pushing one option and the likes of TiVO pushing another option.

    The TiVO proposal involved defining standard data formats for video on demand, pay per view, TV guide, that thing where they map multiple channels to one physical channel space on the cable etc. The head end would only send data to the device which would interpret it and display it using a UI designed by the device manufacturer.

    The cable companies proposed (and seem to have gotten) that all boxes supporting
  • I don't want a cable company spying on me. I started being concerned with this around 1982 when I was a subscriber to QUBE [wikipedia.org] cable system. I had read about people claiming to be charged for movies they never watched. That actually happened to me once at an overnight hour I was asleep though they did delete the charges. Then I found that QUBE had managed to pull my credit report even though I had not given them an SSN. I was also getting 2 to 3 times as much junk mail and telemarketing phone calls compare

    • by swordgeek (112599)
      Good luck with that. The cable boxes talk back and forth with the cable provider. Block the signal back, and the thing will quit working. Tragic but true.
  • How about a plug-in module? A major portion of the cable box would be the box itself, the connectors, the buttons and the power-supply, as well as the assembly of all those.

    A custom-made for each network plug-in card that conforms to a standard (user-interface menu & cable signal inputs, video & menu output) that plugs inside the television backpane could do the trick here. With a plug-in, every "competing" network could have all the "features" it wants without having to kow-towing to a deliberatel

  • What I really care about right now is making sure that it's easy and cheap/free for content creators to make their work available on the next generation platform. (And there should be some kind of del.icio.us-like system to allow content to get popular by word of mouth.)

    I perused the applicable sites, and I can't seem to find any indication on how "open" this platform really is. Does anyone know?
  • I wouldn't put a Sony set top box on my TV, or want to buy a TV with Sony proprietary patented technology inside. A company that would install a deliberately install a computer rootkit on a music CD cannot be trusted inside my home.

    Besides that, I was a victim of their rootkit and don't want another penny of my money going to them either directly of indirectly. If Sony is getting patent fees for any devise whatever, I don't want that device.

    Why is a Japanese company in negotiations with American broadcaster
  • why can't they have a system like in hotels that use a mini box and card in the tv and has a control link so you can use the TV remote to use the menus. They had 2 way links for years you can even play games over them. Right now they have SDV, VOD, PPV, in room check out, and more. They of had this for a long time also. The cable co will just mess this up and find a way to make you pay $6.99+ per tv or even more for a DRV. Sat is at $4.99 a box.
  • Rigged elections, pollution and the environment, and a war based on lies does not really concern Joe six-pack; but mess with his TV and you WILL feel the backlash.

    I suspect cable companies don't realize how angry people will be once they realize that the 4-5 TVs in their house will no longer work (without a box) as digital cable is forced down the throats of their customers.

    Just recently Cablevision started to move analog channels to their digital service which means one day you have a channel, and the next
  • by John Sokol (109591) on Wednesday May 28, 2008 @12:51PM (#23572469) Homepage Journal
    This has been in the works for a long time.
    Most of the cable box vendors are already standardized on DOCSIS3.0 and OCAP. OCAP is an OpenCable Application Platform that is based on Java and most cable boxes already are using it, this is why they are so darn slow when pulling up channel guides and flipping channels, and let's not forget the occasional crash.

    Cable TV people don't do anything fast or radical, I don't know if I'd call them conservative as much as lethargic.

    So now the marketing people have invented a new pretend technical term "tru2way" and we are supposed to believe they have done something innovative, while really they are just starting to roll out 5 year old technology. Yawn...

    These cable boxes really are terrible.

    At some point far enough out in the future we will just have a flat TCP/IP network for everything and everyone will live on the same even playing field.

    Then I will be able to watch Star Wars IX on opening day using 3D video goggles in 4K Digital Cinema resolution on my Google IPTV Set top box streaming live in real time.

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