Note to FCC: Leave Cable Standards Alone

Former chairman Michael Powell tells FCC to back off of proposed AllVid CableCard replacement; AllVid will kill innovation just like CableCard did.

NCTA and fans of private enterprise: Go away, FCC!
Julie Jacobson · July 15, 2011

The FCC has taken it upon itself to develop (possibly mandate) a replacement to the current CableCard standard for digital cable content. With the blessing of such giants as Best Buy, Google, Sony and Mitsubishi, the new AllVid platform would accommodate all manner of content – including cable, satellite and most notably IPTV – and support a number of payment and DRM plans.

The cable industry says go away, FCC.

Former FCC chairman Michael Powell now heads the cable consortium National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA). In a letter to the commission, Powell indicates that the private sector is doing just fine on its own.

“Consumers have even more choices for content from DBS, telco TV, video over the Internet, game consoles and ‘smart TV’ platforms,” Powell writes.

RELATED: Net Neutrality: FCC Saves Us From Our Unreasonable Selves

He cites several cloud-based content delivery mechanisms, standards-based home networking, content search innovations and on-demand video offered as “a clickable retail application on Internet-connected televisions, tablets and PCs.”

Powell writes:

It is especially noteworthy that these welcome developments have taken place without technology mandates and often in the face of existing regulatory impediments. Almost every one of these approaches was developed despite the CableCARD. Many of the major technology improvements in the last few years - such as switched digital video, digital transport adapters, replacement of the 1394 connector with IP connectors - resulted from waiver or elimination of CableCARD requirements (and, unfortunately, only after laborious regulatory or waiver processes). The various prescriptions for future regulatory steps to succeed CableCARD would fare no better.

Most notably, Powell derides the hardware that would be required with AllVid, calling it expensive and unnecessary, especially in an era when content-related services are moving away from set-top boxes and into the cloud.

In any case, all this FCC nonsense around AllVid is causing uncertainty in an industry that is making great strides (and investments) on its own, says Powell: “Risk taking, investment and innovation flourish most fully when freed from regulatory technology mandates and participants in the marketplace are able to craft thoughtful solutions that optimize value to consumers.”

He notes that consumers have more choices than ever today, thanks to private initiatives that would be stifled if FCC were to regulate content delivery.

[via Cable360, Broadcast Engineering]

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · Allvid · CableCard · FCC · NCTA · All Topics
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