Set-top-box vendor Pioneer Cable and Communications Group has added its name
to the short list of companies to sign Cable Television Laboratories Inc.'s
Point of Deployment Host Interface License Agreement (PHILA).
The PHILA agreement gives Pioneer access to the copy protection technology
and configurations to build OpenCable-compliant set-top boxes that interface
with POD cards provided by cable operators.
Pioneer joins Scientific-Atlanta Inc., Motorola Inc. and Pace Micro
Technology plc on the list.
'This represents a natural synergy for Pioneer, since we are the
third-largest manufacturer with an installed base within the digital-cable
arena,' said Paul Dempsey, president of Pioneer's business-solutions
'We believe our alignment with CableLabs and our support for the OpenCable
platform is a very significant and integral component to our long-term
commitment to the U.S. cable industry in making digital set-tops a reality for
the retail environment,' he added.
The OpenCable initiative seeks to create retail set-top boxes that can be
connected to any cabler's network. Customers buying the boxes at retail stores
would then obtain POD cards from the operators when they sign up for service
and, if they move, boxes can be taken and used in other cablers' systems.
One reason why the list of PHILA licensees is limited is because many
consumer-electronics manufacturers are wary of the copy protection it carries.
If activated, the copy protection would limit consumers' ability to record and
store digital video.
The Consumer Electronics Association has argued against such restrictions,
saying that they run counter to traditional recording privileges customers have
had in the analog-VCR video world.
It has also protested the fact that the PHILA agreement terms are not being
disclosed. The Home Recording Rights Coalition -- an advocacy group backed by
the CEA, retailers and consumer groups -- has pressed CableLabs to release the
terms, arguing that the agreement gives content providers and cable operators
the power to dictate how consumers use content, so the terms of those
restrictions should be made public.
CableLabs has defended the PHILA license, saying the license agreement only
provides the specifications and does not dictate what features will be
activated, nor does it require all content to be restricted from