While most of the FCC's new Broadband plan has been about, well, broadband, there's also some great news for HDTV fans. We expected a few mentions about CableCARD and its future when the FCC requested comments and declared it a failure, but we're still glad to see that the FCC listened to consumer electronics companies like TiVo and Sony -- among others. The biggest news is that the FCC has asked the industry to come up with a residential IP gateway that is open and that will provide same abilities as your provider's equipment, and most importantly, it should enable the very same gear to work no matter what type of service you prefer, whether it be satellite, cable or fiber -- for example, via various gateways the same TiVo would work with either DirecTV or Comcast. But while the FCC has given the industry until December of 2012 to define and deploy these IP gateways before implementing an "appropriate enforcement mechanism," in the meantime the FCC wants to see the biggest issues with CableCARDs resolved by this Fall. The list below of immediate fixes is pretty impressive, and other than the persistent lack of video on demand support, it'll help make CableCARD a pretty respectable solution.
- Ditch Tuning Adapters and let devices with Ethernet ports communicate upstream via IP to tune SDV channels.
- If a customer has a CableCARD in their leased set-top box, it must be reflected on the bill like any other CableCARD would.
- If the provider offers a self install for leased set-top boxes, they must also allow self install of a CableCARD.
- Software shouldn't require the same CableLabs certification hardware does.