Set-Tops to Get IP Shove?

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U.S. regulators may force cable
operators to move to Internet protocol
video sooner than many in the industry
had planned.

Last week, the Federal Communications
Commission issued a request for feedback on
its “AllVid” proposal, which would supersede
CableCard rules and let consumers use any
compatible TV or other device to access any
pay-TV service.

To make that possible, the AllVid proposal
would require cable, satellite and
telco TV operators to supply all their customers
a standardized device or gateway
— capable of delivering as many as six different
IP-based video streams to TVs, DVRs
or other equipment in the home — beginning
no later than the end of 2012.

For now, the FCC is seeking comment
on the AllVid concept and does not intend
to impose rules immediately. But the agency
suggested it would require all MVPDs to
supply subscribers with the AllVid solution
no later than Dec. 31, 2012, and mandate the
use of the interface with operator-leased settops
and DVRs as well.

The full implications for cable operators
depend on what shakes out of the FCC’s
rules-setting process. For example, the commission
may not require AllVid devices or
gateways to transcode video into a specified
format, although as proposed they would
still need to include two or six tuners to deliver
the specified number of streams.

In any case, it may make MSOs accelerate
their plans to deliver IP video, according to
Jeff Brooks, Arris Group’s vice president, IP
video product management. “I think this would
dovetail with an operator’s IP video strategy —
and if they weren’t, this might cause them to
begin to look at a strategy,” he said.

An AllVid regulation probably would not
require a cable operator to completely cut
over to an IPTV infrastructure, however; that
would be a very tall order to achieve in the
next two and a half years, said David Grubb,
Motorola’s vice president of technology business

“Moving to all-IP is a massive undertaking,”
Grubb said. “We believe that’s the
direction the industry is headed in, but probably
not in the time frame” specified by the
FCC’s proposal.

The FCC’s proposed
“AllVid” solution would:

■ Provide either a two-stream
“set-back” box or six-stream home

■ Work with cable, satellite and telco

■ Use IP and 100-Mbps Ethernet

■ Use the DTCP-IP specification for
encryption and authentication.

■ Possibly not require videotranscoding