FCC Media Bureau Seeks Comments on TiVo's HD Set-Top Waiver

DVR Maker Wants Clarification on FCC Rule Requiring Cable Boxes to Comply With 'Open Industry Standard' for Home Networking

The FCC's Media Bureau wants input on TiVo's request for a 12-month waiver of commission rules that will require cable operators to ensure HD set-tops "comply with an open industry standard" for home networking by Dec. 1, 2012.

According to the FCC, the rule is designed to make sure consumers can connect consumer-electronics devices they own to set-top boxes leased from MSOs for whole-home viewing and recording.

But TiVo isn't sure what the commission means by "an open industry standard" in the rule.

The DVR maker noted in its July 25 waiver request that the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standards-development consortium has "made important strides, in its published standards and specification references, toward some common understanding of what will constitute 'an open industry standard'" that fulfills the regulatory requirement.

However, the DLNA activity is "not sufficient for TiVo to develop a robust retail product (hence, interoperable with all systems to which any retail customer may subscribe) that may also be supplied to cable operators," the company said.

TiVo requested a waiver of the open industry standard requirement to last until 12 months after cable operators have deployed at least 100,000 set-tops from Cisco Systems and 100,000 from Motorola that comply with the rule. "Once TiVo understands exactly what open industry standard the industry is adopting so TiVo can create its own specifications, TiVo projects that implementation will take approximately one year," the company said.

The waiver wouldn't cause harm to others, TiVo said, because its share of the cable set-top box market is so small. "Indeed, TiVo anticipates that implementation of the open industry standard will be backwards compatible with the models of set-top boxes that it is currently providing to cable operators, so additional time to follow the larger entities should have no negative impact whatsoever."

At the same time, TiVo said consumers would benefit from the waiver because "a retail market in navigation devices can exist only if such devices are generally interoperable on home networks."

Comments and oppositions are due 15 days after the request for comments is published in the Federal Register. The proceeding is Media Bureau docket no. 12-230.