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FCC clarifies set-top box IP interface requirement and extends deadline to 2014

Ben Drawbaugh
12.06.12
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You may have not noticed, but your cable box at home has a Firewire port on it, designed to serve up content to other devices in your home. This almost useless port -- thanks DRM -- is a result of an FCC mandate that has been enforced for almost ten years. Due to the lack of use, the cable industry asked that the rules be updated to require an IP interface instead. That request was granted in the fall of 2010 and was supposed to go into effect this very month.

Evidently two years wasn't long enough to find an acceptable industry standard stack to deliver video over IP, so TiVo and the cable industry requested an extension. The FCC let it be known last week in a Memorandum Opinion and Order that a single standard wasn't actually required, as long as the IP interface on the cable box used an industry standard -- the Commission did bless the DLNA Premium Video Profile as a suitable example. We'll have to wait and see if any other standards are in the mix, but regardless, TiVo and the rest of the cable industry now have until June of 2014 before every one of their boxes has to be able to deliver HD content to 3rd party devices like TVs, Blu-ray players and tablets via IP. In this particular context, TiVo is being treated as a cable company box supplier, although we're not sure how this will apply to its retail devices. Only time will tell if this mandate will bear fruit, but with any luck, the second time will be a charm.

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