Cisco, Motorola Embedding Intel Chips Into Set-Tops?

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Tucked away in an FCC filing from Intel this week was the detail that the silicon supplier is working with Cisco Systems and Motorola on next-generation video products.

Intel noted that it demonstrated products at CES in January that use its CE 4100 processors, and said, “Intel is working with numerous companies, including D-Link, Google TV, Boxee, Motorola, and Cisco, and internationally companies like Orange and Amino, to bring better user experiences to the large home screen.”

Yesterday I asked Intel, Cisco and Motorola to provide more info on which Cisco and Motorola products are incorporating Intel chips, but haven’t received any word back yet.

Meanwhile, Intel didn’t mention Pace, which also has developed set-tops with the CE 4100 multimedia processors. Comcast is using Pace’s “Parker” box based on the Intel architecture for a test of Xfinity Spectrum, a service that features Web video, social networking features and a redesigned guide (see Comcast: New Way on Tru2way and Pace Powers Comcast’s ‘Xfinity Spectrum’ Net-Enabled TV Trial).

The chip company’s comments in the Jan. 31 ex parte filing were addressing FCC’s AllVid proceeding, with Intel supporting the concept of a federally mandated AllVid adapter “feeding MVPD-supplied content to the home network over standard protocols.”

Pay TV operators and programmers oppose AllVid, arguing that government mandates would create more problems than they would solve. The NCTA recently argued that market forces are already pushing Internet-delivered video to a myriad of consumer electronics, obviating the need for AllVid (see NCTA: Broadband Video Migration Needs No FCC Push and Cable Networks to FCC: AllVid Is AllBad).

Interestingly, Intel supports AllVid — which would entail the FCC forcing MVPD services to comply with technical specifications and technologies such as DLNA, MPEG-2 or H.264 and DTCP-IP — even though the company opposed the agency’s similarly misguided FireWire mandate for HD set-tops (see Intel Seeks Waiver On FCC’s FireWire Set-Top Rule).

The FCC subsequently eliminated the requirement for FireWire (a.k.a. IEEE 1394) given the evidence that virtually nobody uses those FireWire ports (see FCC Douses FireWire Requirement For Set-Tops With IP).

Intel called the FireWire requirement a “bridge to nowhere.” But, confusingly, it believes that an AllVid gateway “using standard communications protocols will enable the secure transmission of MVPD content to the PC platform, with key opportunities for industry and benefits for consumers.”

As FCC commissioner Robert McDowell commented on a panel at CES (and I’m paraphrasing): You don’t really want five FCC commissioners trying to design a set-top box.

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