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  #1  
Old 08-25-2009, 07:19 PM
GoAWest GoAWest is offline
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Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

So does clear-QAM become a thing of the past for most channels?

===============================================
Cable Digital News - Video - FCC Approves DTAs From Moto, Cisco, Thomson & Pace - Telecom News Analysis

FCC Approves DTAs From Moto, Cisco, Thomson & Pace
August 25, 2009

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Media Bureau has granted three-year waivers to Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices made by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Thomson (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), and Pace Micro Technology , a decision that looks to benefit Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) the most in the near-term, but could also spur adoption of the devices by numerous other U.S. cable MSOs.

The waivers give Comcast and, potentially, other operators the green light to deploy those inexpensive, one-way "channel zappers" (they cost about $35 each) with security enabled, thereby sidestepping an integrated security ban that took effect in July 2007. Those waivers will also give MSOs access to simple digital-to-analog converter boxes that cost much less than entry-level, interactive set-tops that rely on removable CableCARDs to decrypt and authorize digital video signals. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

Comcast, which has tried and failed to obtain box waivers on its own on multiple occasions, has been deploying DTAs by the boatload without security enabled, as part of a larger analog reclamation strategy. However, a firmware download can activate a content protection scheme that's already burned into the DTA chips. (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional , Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan , and Comcast Seeds Digital Shift With Free Boxes.)

The FCC adopted the order on Monday but, as of this writing, has not posted it publicly. However, Cable Digital News has obtained multiple copies of it.

The FCC, in a six-page explanation granting the waivers, agreed that the DTA models submitted by Cisco, Moto, Thomson, and Pace were no more advanced than two standard-def DTAs from Evolution Broadband LLC that the Commission awarded three-year waivers to in early June. That original waiver essentially allows MSOs to use and deploy the Evolution boxes with an integrated conditional access system from Conax AS without seeking out and obtaining separate waivers. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs.)
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  #2  
Old 08-26-2009, 05:03 AM
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ZetaVu ZetaVu is offline
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Yet another reason why I put so much energy into my OTA antenna system, and would never go back to cable. As long as I can buy my own cards and OTA is required to meet compliance (no broadcast flag) I get my channels, and the HD PVR does the rest off my stb. Never trust the cable companies to do anything that benefits the consumers, just themselves.
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  #3  
Old 08-26-2009, 08:06 AM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Last time I subscribed to cable was back when I was still living with the parents (18 years old) back in 1986, so technically, I didn't subscribe to it, but the parents did. I've watched OTA ever since I left. Don't miss a thing, 'cept the parents of course.
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Old 08-26-2009, 10:42 AM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Clear QAM is already a thing of the past (or a thing that never was) for most channels on my Time-Warner Cable service. I get locals in HD + some SD secondary channels, and some garbage shopping channels via Clear QAM.

With less and less interesting stuff on the rest of "standard cable" via analog that isn't also available streaming elsewhere, I'm less and less inclined to stick with cable if I can get OTA reception going.

My "dream" is still for the cable company to:

- drop analog for "standard cable"
- reuse the analog channel frequencies to provide digital equivalents in clear QAM
- continue to use whatever technology they currently use to keep the tiny minority of "basic cable" and "internet only" customers from getting the current "standard cable" analog channel frequencies (but in the future clear QAM channel frequencies) for free
- use whatever extra bandwidth is left over to provide more premium services for folks who care about those so the cable companies don't end up destroying their own customer base with their unfriendly policies (like internet service metering)
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Old 08-26-2009, 03:11 PM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

I dropped cable TV at the beginning of the summer. Don't miss the service or the bills. I am kind of surprised that as a family we don't miss it, but it will be a long cold winter before I go back....

I have come up with a decent OTA antenna and will probably improve on it over time, but for now, it is great.
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  #6  
Old 08-26-2009, 03:43 PM
GoAWest GoAWest is offline
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

I've got (really cheap; have to buy it to get an equivalent discount on cable modem service) basic analog cable. But a bunch of clear-QAM stations are also present. Since I'm using HDHomeRuns, with a mix of cable clear-QAM and OTA via an in-attic antenna, I can go either way. I get a wider variety of stations on the clear-QAM and would hate to lose those but wouldn't jump to a digi solution ($$, Comcast DTAs and DVRs, cable-card Tivos, etc.) if I did. I suspect cable will continue to deliver some QAMs, at least of the broadcast stations.
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Old 08-27-2009, 03:17 PM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Does this rule now mean that all of the Clear QAM will eventually be encrypted? That will put a hurting on my BTV recording.

My neighbor is a ham radio buff. We live in a small valley between two hills. He has a large rotatable antenna on his roof which he also uses for television. He has to manually use the rotation to pull in different digital OTA stations.

Since I don't have such an antenna I have (been) stuck with Comcast. And even If I had that antenna, it would only do me good if I was present to rotate it to get the correct reception. Not really BTV friendly.

I guess it will be good-bye to recording Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and anything else that is not basic, non-encrypted cable.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:50 PM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Then what's the point of having QAM tuners in TV's then if this is true?

I think that there needs to be the following push put to the FCC:

Basic cable tiers for all cable companies be mandated to switch to Clear QAM in 2012, (i.e. if you get 99 analog channels without a box, then you should get 99 clear QAM channels without a box after the switchover).
Boxes from cable companies should only be required for extended tiers or decrypting pay stations like HBO or PPV.
All OTA DTV boxes should be mandated to contain clear QAM decoders as of December 2011, so that people who rely solely on analog cable before the switchover simply have to buy the same boxes that people who want OTA digital need to buy.
Consumers should still be able to buy a NON cable company box that has to be allowed to be attached to the network (i.e. Carterphone style decision here)

Problem solved. We're in the digital age, and everybody wins... Cable companies get their bandwidth back, consumers are not hindered by the switchover, and that's that!

What possible benefit for the consumer is with this other than a possible internet bandwidth increase (which they'll be paying through the nose for anyway)? What they're trying to do is lock out DVR users entirely. This is a coordinated effort between the cable companies and the Media Providers (Hollywood, NAB, etc) to wrest control back of people's viewing habits and fair use rights.
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Last edited by DonK; 08-27-2009 at 06:55 PM.
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Old 08-28-2009, 02:43 AM
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

While I somewhat understand the FCC's desire to allow the lowest cost boxes to be out in service in an effort to keep cable prices from rising, I entirely believe that the large disparity between the cheap DTAs and a full fledged digital cable/PPV boxes is one engineered by the industry. Boo to the FCC on this one.

I fully expect we'll see large cable co's with all non-locals migrated to encrypted QAM on large networks in the next year. They've invested too heavily in sending customers DTA boxes in my area not to have this lock-down (and potential installation of revenue generating PPV boxes) as their goal.
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:48 AM
vidiot1985 vidiot1985 is offline
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by littlebone View Post
Does this rule now mean that all of the Clear QAM will eventually be encrypted? That will put a hurting on my BTV recording.
...
My understanding is that cable companies still have to carry local channels if the locals offer it to them for free. They must provide it in analog if they have any analog on their system, at least until 2012, and they can provide it in digital form (not necessarily HD though) if they wish, but cannot require you to rent an STB to get it. So I guess they can either leave them as analog and/or Clear QAM, or encrypt them and give everybody free STBs. It seems Comcast is going the latter route, but I hope others don't follow suit with this increased availability of cheap, security-capable STBs.

Hopefully, other cable companies will realize that not requiring STBs (even free ones) is one of the few advantages they offer customers who can choose satellite and/or one of the phone company solutions. In any case, it still seems to me that many, if not most, of us can expect to have Clear QAM digital locals for a while. The main, shorter term risk is to the rest of "standard cable" that many (most?) of us are getting on our DVRs only via analog.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:15 PM
ChefJoe ChefJoe is offline
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Re: Impact of FCC DTA rule on clear QAM?

Crap, time to comment to the FCC about this stuff.

Cablevision asks FCC for a waiver to encrypt all Clear QAM channels
Cable Digital News - Security - Cablevision Looks to Lock Up Basic Video Tier - Telecom News Analysis
Cablevision Looks to Lock Up Basic Video Tier
September 23, 2009 | Jeff Baumgartner | Comment (1)

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lift a rule that keeps it from encrypting its basic video tier. If the FCC does so, consumers who use digital TVs with embedded QAM tuners to receive basic channels "in the clear" today would be forced to rent or buy a set-top box capable of displaying the newly encrypted programming.

Cablevision wants the rule lifted as it makes plans to convert its New York City system to all-digital, claiming the move will "have virtually no negative impact on customers" while reducing costs and helping the MSO to improve customer service. On that last point, Cablevision's emphasizing that a waiver of the encryption rule coupled with an all-digital cutover would also help it "activate and terminate service without appointments," while also beefing up the overall security of the network.
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