[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 93 (Friday, May 14, 2010)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 27264-27271]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-11388]



47 CFR Part 76

[MB Docket No. 10-91; CS Docket No. 97-80; PP Docket No. 00-67; FCC 10-

Video Device Competition; Implementation of Section 304 of the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996: Commercial Availability of Navigation 
Devices; Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics 

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice of inquiry.


SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission seeks comment on ways to 
unleash competition in the retail market for smart set-top video 
devices that are compatible with all multichannel video programming 
distributor (``MVPD'') services. The goal of this proceeding is to 
better accomplish the intent of Congress as set forth in section 629 of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. In particular, we wish to 
explore the potential for allowing any electronics manufacturer to 
offer smart video devices at retail that can be used with the services 
of any MVPD and without the need to coordinate or negotiate with MVPDs. 
We believe that this could foster a competitive retail market in smart 
video devices to spur investment and innovation, increase consumer 
choice, allow unfettered innovation in MVPD delivery platforms, and 
encourage wider broadband use and adoption.

DATES: Comments for this proceeding are due on or before July 13, 2010; 
reply comments are due on or before August 12, 2010.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket No. 10-91; 
CS Docket No. 97-80; and PP Docket No. 00-67, by any of the following 
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: [email protected] or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Brendan Murray, [email protected], of the 
Media Bureau, Policy Division, (202) 418-2120 or Alison Neplokh, 
[email protected], of the Media Bureau, Engineering Division, 
(202) 418-1083.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Notice 
of Inquiry (NOI), FCC 10-60, adopted and released on April 21, 2010. 
The full text of this document is available for public inspection and 
copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., CY-A257, 
Washington, DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS 
(http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/). (Documents will be available 
electronically in ASCII, Word 97, and/or Adobe Acrobat.) The complete 
text may be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 445 12th 
Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. To request this 
document in accessible formats (computer diskettes, large print, audio 
recording, and Braille), send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the 
Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 
(voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

Summary of the Notice of Inquiry

I. Introduction

    1. In this Notice of Inquiry, the Commission seeks comment on 
specific steps we can take to unleash competition in the retail market 
for smart, set-top video devices (``smart video devices'') that are 
compatible with all multichannel video programming distributor 
(``MVPD'') services. Our goal in this proceeding is to better 
effectuate the intent of Congress as set forth in section 629 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended. In particular, we wish to 
explore the potential for

[[Page 27265]]

allowing any electronics manufacturer to offer smart video devices at 
retail that can be used with the services of any MVPD and without the 
need to coordinate or negotiate with MVPDs. We believe that this could 
foster a competitive retail market in smart video devices to spur 
investment and innovation, increase consumer choice, allow unfettered 
innovation in MVPD delivery platforms, and encourage wider broadband 
use and adoption.
    2. More specifically, we introduce the concept of an adapter that 
could act either as a small ``set-back'' device for connection to a 
single smart video device or as a gateway allowing all consumer 
electronics devices in the home to access multichannel video 
programming services. Unlike the existing cable-centric CableCARD 
technology, this adapter could make possible the development and 
marketing of smart video devices that attach to any MVPD service 
anywhere in the United States, which could greatly enhance the 
incentives for manufacturers to enter the retail market. As conceived, 
the adapter would communicate with the MVPD service, performing the 
tuning and security decryption functions that may be specific to a 
particular MVPD; the smart video device would perform navigation 
functions, including presentation of programming guides and search 
functionality. The Commission seeks comment on this concept. We also 
invite any alternative proposals that would achieve the same objective 
of eliminating barriers to entry in the retail market for smart video 
devices that are compatible with all MVPD services.
    3. The Commission envisions that the proposal adopted in this 
proceeding would be a successor technology to CableCARD. We predict 
that smart video devices built to new standards that would be adopted 
through this proceeding would eventually replace CableCARD devices on 
retail shelves. Accordingly, in this Notice of Inquiry the Commission 
also seeks comment on the future of the CableCARD regime. We are 
separately releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address a 
number of CableCARD implementation issues pending the completion of a 
successor regime.

II. Background

    4. In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress added section 
629 to the Communications Act. Section 629 directed the Commission to 
adopt regulations to ensure the commercial availability of navigation 
devices used by consumers to access services from MVPDs. Section 629 
covers ``equipment used by consumers to access multichannel video 
programming and other services offered over multichannel video 
programming systems.'' In enacting the section, Congress pointed to the 
vigorous retail market for customer premises equipment (``CPE'') used 
with the telephone network and sought to create a similarly vigorous 
market for devices used with MVPD services.
    5. Congress was prescient in enacting section 629 in 1996. In 
analog cable systems, which were common throughout the 1990s, most 
consumers could connect their ``cable ready'' video cassette recorders 
and television sets directly to a cable operator's system without the 
need for any other equipment. During that time, many people became 
accustomed to and appreciated the convenience of the ``plug and play'' 
aspect of connecting a coaxial cable from the wall directly into a 
television set to receive their video programming service. But this 
analog ``plug and play'' technology was unable to support advancements 
in video delivery technology such as digital cable, bidirectional video 
services such as pay-per-view, and the emergence of competitive 
services from Direct Broadcast Satellite (``DBS'') providers, which 
were widely available by 2000. These new developments required the use 
of more advanced encryption and encoding techniques and bidirectional 
communication, among other functions, and the MVPDs built this 
capability into proprietary set-top boxes.
    6. The Commission has adopted regulations in response to the 
statutory mandate in section 629 to ensure retail competition in the 
``navigation device'' market. Those regulations have enabled 
competitors such as TiVo and Moxi to enter the market. However, the 
Commission's rules as they currently exist have yet to realize 
Congress' charge to develop a fully competitive retail market.
    7. The Commission adopted its first Report and Order, 63 FR 38089, 
to implement section 629 in 1998. The Report and Order required MVPDs 
to make available a conditional access element separate from the basic 
navigation device, in order to permit unaffiliated manufacturers and 
retailers to manufacture and market navigation devices while allowing 
MVPDs to retain control over their system security. The technical 
details of this conditional access element were to be worked out in 
industry negotiations. In 2003, the Commission adopted standards on 
which the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the 
Consumer Electronics Association had agreed in a Memorandum of 
Understanding (``MOU''), with certain modifications. The MOU prescribed 
the technical standards for ``CableCARD'' compatibility. The CableCARD 
is a security device provided by an MVPD, which can be inserted into a 
set-top box or television set bought by a consumer in the retail market 
and enable the consumer's television to display MVPD encrypted video 
programming. To ensure adequate support by MVPDs for CableCARDs, the 
Commission prohibited MVPDs from integrating the security function into 
set-top boxes they lease to consumers, thus forcing MVPDs to rely on 
CableCARDs as well. This ``integration ban'' was initially set to go 
into effect on January 1, 2005, but that date was later extended to 
July 1, 2007.
    8. The Commission's rules require cable operators to support only 
one-way plug-and-play capability for retail CableCARD devices. This 
largely reflects the absence of a proven market for two-way services 
when negotiations began, and a desire within the industry to achieve 
consensus on how to assure access to the most basic services first and 
not await the conclusion of negotiations regarding access to new 
services that might be introduced later. Accordingly, the Commission's 
rules do not require cable operators to provide access for retail 
devices to two-way services such as interactive program guides, pay-
per-view, or video-on-demand services, which were nascent services in 
2003 and would have required complex and lengthy technical 
consideration. For that reason among others, retail CableCARD devices 
have not been able to offer all of the cable services available to 
subscribers who lease their set-top boxes from the cable operator. This 
is partially responsible for the failure of the CableCARD solution to 
create a strong retail market for navigation devices.
    9. Furthermore, although the CableCARD rules nominally apply to all 
MVPDs, the Commission exempted MVPDs that operate throughout the United 
States and offer devices for retail sale through unaffiliated vendors. 
In practice, this means that DBS operators are not subject to these 
rules. More recent entrant AT&T does not provide CableCARD devices, and 
Verizon supports CableCARDs to a limited extent, but not for its 
advanced IP services. The Commission also has given numerous 
integration ban waivers to cable operators who have demonstrated good 
cause for waiver, such as cable operators in financial distress and 
cable operators who have upgraded their systems to all-digital. While 
numerous, these integration ban waivers involve a de minimis number of

[[Page 27266]]

cable subscribers nationwide. The Commission also started granting 
waivers for low-cost, limited capability set-top boxes and, although 
these waivers will result in more than a de minimis number of 
subscribers receiving these boxes, these boxes are able to access only 
one-way services and provide a substantial public interest benefit by 
significantly reducing costs to consumers for these low-end services.
    10. Unfortunately, the Commission's efforts to date have not led to 
a robustly competitive retail market for navigation devices that 
connect to subscription video services. Most cable subscribers continue 
to use the traditional set-top boxes leased from their cable operator. 
Although following adoption of the CableCARD rules some television 
manufacturers sold unidirectional digital cable-ready products 
(``UDCPs''), most manufactures have abandoned the technology. Indeed, 
since July 1, 2007, cable operators have deployed only 456,000 
CableCARDs for installation in retail devices, compared with their 
deployment of more than 17.7 million leased devices pre-equipped with 
CableCARDs since the integration ban went into effect. Furthermore, 
while 605 UDCP models have been certified or verified for use with 
CableCARDs, only 37 of those certifications have occurred since the 
integration ban took effect in July 2007. This indicates that, with the 
exceptions of TiVo, Moxi, and CableCARD-equipped home theater 
computers, retail device manufacturers have abandoned CableCARD 
technology before any substantial benefits of the integration ban could 
be realized.
    11. The Commission anticipated that the parties to the MOU would 
negotiate a further agreement to achieve two-way compatibility, using 
either a software-based or hardware-based solution. When the Commission 
realized in June 2007 that negotiations were not leading to an 
agreement for two-way compatibility between consumer electronics 
devices and cable systems, it released a Third Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, 72 FR 40818, seeking comment on competing 
proposals for two-way compatibility and other related issues. In the 
wake of this Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the six 
largest cable operators and a number of consumer electronics 
manufacturers negotiated an agreement for bidirectional compatibility 
that continues to rely and build on CableCARDs by using a middleware-
based solution called ``tru2way.''
    12. We are not convinced that the tru2way solution will assure the 
development of a commercial retail market as directed by Congress. As 
an alternative, we seek to explore the potential for fulfilling this 
statutory directive by providing consumer electronics manufacturers 
with the ability to build smart video navigation devices that can 
access MVPD content regardless of the delivery technology the provider 
employs and to ensure that necessary licensing agreements do not 
contain contractual terms that limit the functionality of the devices. 
Although tru2way is designed to be a two-way solution for traditional 
cable operators, it requires manufacturers to sign a license agreement 
that contains limitations that may hinder innovation. For example, the 
agreement limits a device's ability to integrate video from multiple 
sources into a consistent viewing experience by limiting the 
presentation and content of a tru2way device's graphical user 
interface. This could prevent a tru2way device from searching a 
consumer's computer, DVR, Netflix account, and cable-operator-provided 
video on demand offerings for a particular film or for films that 
include the consumer's favorite actor. Furthermore, tru2way is an 
unworkable solution for DBS and other non-cable providers. Even service 
from a cable provider like Verizon, which provides most of its video 
using the same QAM delivery technology as traditional cable operators, 
but uses Internet Protocol (``IP'') for interactive functions such as 
video-on-demand, currently is not compatible with tru2way. Finally, the 
fact that the DBS providers are the second and third largest MVPDs, 
continue to gain market share, and yet are not subject to the 
integration ban also may be impeding the development of a vibrant 
retail market by artificially limiting the market for competitive 
retail devices. Despite the importance of being able to expand the 
retail market to reach the DBS providers' networks, most consumer 
electronics manufacturers acknowledge that an attempt to establish 
standards for navigation devices that would work with each of the 
different delivery technologies without some intermediation would be 
impractical and prohibitively expensive.
    13. The approaches considered to date have a number of inherent 
limitations. Both the one-way CableCARD and tru2way approaches focus on 
television sets and digital video recorders (``DVRs'') as the initial 
consumer device, with that device housing security (through the 
CableCARD), tuning, and navigation functions. Yet delivery platforms 
continue to evolve at a rapid pace. As these delivery platforms evolve, 
consumers may need to upgrade or replace their devices to maintain 
compatibility with those delivery platforms, even if the device is 
still physically sound. It is impractical to expect consumers to spend 
hundreds of dollars to replace their television sets or set-top boxes 
to accommodate each delivery innovation. A subscriber can avoid that 
risk by renting an HD set-top box from a cable operator for an average 
cost of $8.22 per month. This disparity can be expected to perpetuate 
reliance on cable operators' set-top leasing model and undermine 
development of a vigorous retail market in navigation devices even if 
tru2way is successfully deployed.
    14. On December 3, 2009, the Commission's Omnibus Broadband 
Initiative (``OBI'') released a Public Notice (``NBP PN 27'') 
seeking comment on four issues related to the ability of manufacturers 
to compete and innovate in the video device market. Specifically, the 
Public Notice sought comment on (i) the technological and market-based 
limitations that prevent retail devices from accessing all types of 
content; (ii) whether a retail market for network-agnostic video 
devices could spur broadband use and adoption and achieve the goals of 
section 629; (iii) whether the home broadband service model could be 
adapted to provide for audio-visual device connectivity; and (iv) what 
obstacles may hinder convergence of internet and MVPD-provided video. 
Commenters generally agreed that the technological limitations that 
prevent devices from accessing all types of content can be traced to 
the different conditional access schemes, delivery technologies, and 
platforms that MVPDs use. Commenters expressed some disagreement about 
whether network-agnostic video devices would spur broadband use and 
adoption, but generally agreed that true network agnosticism is a 
laudable goal for navigation devices. Commenters also generally agreed 
that the home broadband service model could be adapted to provide for 
audio-visual device connectivity, but some disagreed about the specific 
methods that should be used for such connectivity. Finally, commenters 
generally agreed that the obstacles that hinder convergence of Internet 
and MVPD-provided video are divergent delivery technologies and content 
protection methods. Certain commenters also cited business practices 
that deter entry into the market. NCTA recently filed a letter 
expressing its members' commitment to a set of principles largely 
supportive of

[[Page 27267]]

our objectives in launching this proceeding.

III. Discussion

    15. In this Notice of Inquiry, we seek comment on ways to achieve 
the objective that Congress established nearly fifteen years ago. While 
MVPD services have become far more robust in the intervening years, for 
the most part the consumer experience with respect to the equipment 
that is required to access those services has not. Consumers have shown 
limited interest in purchasing retail devices that can access MVPD 
services under our existing rules, and we believe that two fundamental 
defects in the current regime account for this reluctance. First, with 
few exceptions retail navigation devices are unable to provide 
functionality beyond that available in devices that subscribers can 
lease from their providers and often are unable to access many of the 
MVPD services that leased set-top devices are able to access. Second, 
as a general matter a retail navigation device purchased for use with 
one MVPD's services cannot be used with the services of a competing 
MVPD. We seek comment on these premises, and we invite commenters to 
offer other explanations for the failure of a retail market for 
navigation devices to emerge.
    16. Assuming that these premises are in the main correct, we 
propose a solution that could address these two fundamental problems 
and seek comment on them. We believe that the concept discussed below 
could give device manufacturers the ability to develop ``smart'' 
products that can access any service that an MVPD provides without the 
need to enter into restrictive license agreements with MVPDs. The 
concept also could give device manufacturers the ability to develop 
smart video devices that can access MVPD programming regardless of the 
delivery technology that the MVPD uses. Accordingly, we introduce and 
seek comment on a model that would require MVPDs to provide a small, 
low-cost adapter that would connect to proprietary MVPD networks and 
would provide a common interface for connection to televisions, DVRs, 
and other smart video devices, as described below. This adapter, a 
further development of the concept of the ``gateway device'' 
recommended in Chapter 4 of the National Broadband Plan, would perform 
the conditional access functions as well as tuning, reception, and 
upstream communication as directed by the smart video device. The 
adapter and the smart video device would communicate with each other 
using a standard interface, but each adapter would be system-specific 
to a particular MVPD in order to communicate with its network. 
Innovations in a MVPDs' delivery technology might require substitution 
of a new adapter but would not require the consumer to replace her 
smart video device or other in-home equipment. While the Commission 
seeks comment on this concept, we also encourage commenters to present 
other proposals that would remove barriers to the establishment of a 
retail market for smart video devices compatible with all MVPD 
services. If commenters disagree that the root problems involve limits 
on device functionality and portability across MVPDs, we invite them to 
identify what they believe are the obstacles to a competitive retail 
market in navigation devices and to propose solutions.
    17. The AllVid Concept. Ideally, the Commission's all video 
(``AllVid'') solution would work for all MVPDs and lead to a nationwide 
interoperability standard, much as Ethernet and the IEEE 802.11 
standards have led to nationwide interoperability for customer data 
networks while allowing broadband service providers to deploy differing 
proprietary network technologies. The AllVid solution would be designed 
to accommodate any delivery technology that an MVPD chooses to use and 
allow MVPDs to continue unfettered innovation in video delivery, 
because the MVPD-provided AllVid adapter, rather than the consumer-
owned smart video device, would be responsible for all communication 
with the MVPD. At the same time, it would allow consumer electronics 
manufacturers to design to a stable interface and to integrate multiple 
functions within a retail device. This approach would provide the 
necessary flexibility for consumer electronics manufacturers to develop 
new technologies, including combining MVPD content with over-the-top 
video services (such as videos offered from, for example, Amazon, Hulu, 
iTunes, or NetFlix), manipulating the channel guide, providing more 
advanced parental controls, providing new user interfaces, and 
integrating with mobile devices.
    18. Two previous standardization approaches help to illustrate how 
this solution could unleash competition and innovation in equipment 
used with MVPD services, while allowing unfettered innovation in the 
services themselves: (i) The Carterfone and Computer Inquiry decisions 
required that the telephone network be terminated in a standardized RJ-
11 interface; and (ii) broadband services developed using divergent and 
rapidly developing network technologies terminated in an adapter that 
presents a standardized Ethernet interface.
    19. The RJ-11 interface requirement allowed the development of a 
vibrant retail market for answering machines, cordless phones, fax 
machines, modems, and other customer-premises equipment used with the 
telephone network. The requirement that the network terminate in a 
standardized interface with no carrier-supplied terminating device was 
implemented in the context of a single telephone network that used a 
single, stable delivery technology. It was a workable and successful 
solution in that context because our telephone network was based on a 
nationwide standard.
    20. Broadband services differ from telephone service in two key 
respects that have led to a significantly different approach. Multiple 
broadband operators provide services using divergent network 
technologies; and those technologies are not static but are rapidly 
developing. Numerous broadband delivery technologies exist--among them 
cable, digital subscriber line (``DSL''), satellite, wireless 
broadband, and optical fiber to the home. In each system, the operator 
provides a customer with an interface device such as a cable modem that 
performs all of the network-specific functions and connects via an 
Ethernet port to a multitude of competitively provided customer-
premises devices including computers, printers, game consoles, digital 
media devices, wireless routers, and network storage devices. This 
approach has promoted an innovative and highly competitive retail 
market for devices used with broadband services. At the same time, 
because each operator terminates its service in an interface device 
that it can swap out as needed to accommodate innovations in delivery 
technologies, this approach has freed service providers to innovate in 
their networks without changing the Ethernet connection to which 
customers attach their devices. For example, a DSL provider can 
introduce a new, faster technology in its network and, if necessary, 
swap in a new DSL modem that incorporates the new technology, without 
changing the customer interface or requiring customers to replace 
devices they use with the service. This allows consumers to benefit 
from new and improved services without incurring the cost of replacing 
devices they have purchased at retail--replacing a single modem is more 
cost-effective than replacing each device that accesses broadband 

[[Page 27268]]

    21. One possible reason for the lack of success in the 
implementation of Section 629 to date is that it was modeled on the 
earlier telephone service approach, rather than the second, broadband 
approach. As NCTA has pointed out, the interface requirement as it 
applies to telephone service is not completely analogous. We agree, and 
we believe that the approach to assuring device compatibility with 
broadband services may provide a better model for MVPD device 
compatibility. MVPDs, like broadband providers, use divergent and 
rapidly developing delivery technologies, and our experience with the 
CableCARD regime indicates that a static implementation of section 629 
that incorporates network-specific interface functions into the 
navigation devices that consumers purchase in the retail market is 
unlikely to succeed. A more innovative, pragmatic, and long-term 
approach may be to separate those network interface functions from the 
consumer devices through the use of an adapter, as is the case with 
broadband services.
    22. The AllVid concept would follow the broadband approach. It 
would place the network-specific functions such as conditional access, 
provisioning, reception, and decoding of the signal in one small, 
inexpensive operator-provided adapter, which could be either (i) a set-
back device--which today could be as small as deck of cards--that 
attaches to the back of a consumer's television set or set-top box, or 
(ii) a home gateway device that routes MVPD content throughout a 
subscriber's home network. The adapter would act as a conduit to 
connect proprietary MVPD networks with navigation devices, TV sets, and 
a broad range of other equipment in the home. The AllVid adapter would 
communicate over open standards widely used in home communications 
protocols, as outlined below, enabling consumers to select and access 
content through navigation devices of their choosing purchased in a 
competitive retail market. MVPDs would, of course, be free to 
participate in the retail market by offering navigation devices for 
sale or lease to consumers, but those devices would be separate from 
the adapter and marketed separately.
    23. We believe that this model could unleash an expanding retail 
market for innovative and portable smart video devices and could also 
maintain MVPDs' freedom to innovate in and protect their networks. As 
we envision the AllVid concept, it could lead to ``[c]ompetition in the 
manufacturing and distribution of consumer devices'' as Congress 
envisioned, which ``has always led to innovation, lower prices and 
higher quality,'' because retail devices would be able to access the 
full array of services offered by all MVPDs and to integrate those 
services with other video sources--something that today's plug-and-play 
devices and tru2way devices cannot do. More specifically, we believe 
that this new AllVid model could: (i) Spur the development of a 
competitive retail market in navigation devices, thus providing 
subscribers with viable alternatives to leasing or buying a set-top box 
from their MVPD, (ii) drive down retail prices for devices used to 
access MVPD services without increasing the prices of those services, 
(iii) encourage MVPDs to develop and introduce innovative services 
without being inhibited by the need to consult with navigation device 
manufacturers, and (iv) encourage device manufacturers to develop and 
introduce innovative smart video devices without being deterred by the 
need to consult with MVPDs. In the following section, we seek comment 
on a framework designed to achieve those goals; we also encourage 
commenters to propose alternative plans that could achieve the same 
    24. AllVid Standards. The AllVid adapter would perform only the 
functions necessary to support devices connected to the home network, 
and should connect to home network devices using a nationally supported 
standard interface that is common across MVPDs. We expect that an 
AllVid adapter could be inexpensive and physically small but, as set 
forth below, seek comment on those assumptions. We also envision that 
MVPDs would provide subscribers with the AllVid adapters (included in 
the price of service, or for a nominal lease fee, or with the option to 
purchase), and that AllVid adapters would likely not be portable across 
carriers. We seek comment on these expectations, as well as on the 
specific elements we believe would be necessary to bring the concept to 
fruition. For example, in a petition for rulemaking filed in the wake 
of NBP PN 27, Public Knowledge suggests that an AllVid-type 
device would require ``standards for (1) a physical connection, (2) a 
communication protocol, (3) authentication, (4) service discovery, and 
(5) content encoding.'' We seek comment on Public Knowledge's proposal, 
as well as the list of functions discussed in detail below that we 
believe would be necessary to implement the AllVid concept. We seek 
comment on any other functions for which standards would be necessary 
to develop an AllVid adapter. In this Section, we also seek comment on 
standards for the adapters, with the understanding that these standards 
may not encompass the entire universe necessary to develop and deploy 
AllVid adapters.
    25. AllVid Equipment. The AllVid equipment would be designed to 
operate specifically with one MVPD and offered through the MVPD's 
preferred mechanism, whether leased or sold at retail, manufactured by 
one company or competitively. We foresee two possible physical 
configurations for the AllVid equipment. In the first configuration, 
the AllVid equipment would be a small ``set-back'' device, capable of 
communicating with one navigation device or TV set and providing at 
least two simultaneous video streams to allow for picture-in-picture 
and to allow subscribers to watch a program on one channel while 
recording a program on another channel. In the second configuration, 
the AllVid equipment would act as a whole-home gateway, capable of 
simultaneously communicating with multiple navigation devices within 
the home, and providing at least six simultaneous video streams within 
the home (which would allow picture-in-picture in three different 
rooms), possibly through a modular system that could accommodate more 
streams as necessary. We seek input on each of these configurations and 
whether one of these configurations is more appropriate than the other, 
or if there are other superior configurations that should be 
    26. Physical connection. The 100-BASE-TX Ethernet could act as the 
physical layer technology used to connect the AllVid adapters with 
navigation devices. 100-BASE-TX Ethernet operates at speeds adequate to 
allow transfer of multiple high definition MPEG-2 signals (nominally 15 
Mbps each), and it has developed as a de facto connection for data 
transmission. Current and next-generation audio-visual equipment has 
and will continue to include Ethernet ports for connectivity for the 
foreseeable future. Therefore, adoption of Ethernet as the physical 
connection for AllVid adapters and navigation devices could enable 
compatibility with existing devices. In addition, the ubiquity of 
Ethernet could allow the AllVid adapter and navigation device 
manufacturers to defray costs to a large extent. We seek comment on 
these predictions. We seek comment on whether using Ethernet for the 
physical connection would be limiting if Internet video were not passed 
through the AllVid adapter. We also seek comment on any other

[[Page 27269]]

physical connectors (for example, Multimedia over Coaxial Cable 
(``MoCA'')) that could serve as the bridge between AllVid adapters and 
retail navigation devices, or whether the Commission would need to 
mandate a physical layer technology at all.
    27. Communication Protocol. Internet Protocol (``IP'') could act as 
the communication protocol between the AllVid adapter and navigation 
devices. Like Ethernet, IP is the de facto standard protocol for data 
transmission, and current and next-generation audio-visual equipment is 
capable of handling IP communication. As a widely adopted protocol, IP 
is familiar to hardware and software developers, which would allow the 
retail market to flourish for smart video devices. We seek comment on 
whether IP would be the best choice for an AllVid communication 
protocol. We also seek comment on any other communication protocols 
that could serve as a standardized communication protocol between 
AllVid adapters and retail navigation devices.
    28. Encryption and Authentication. Both the MPAA and CableLabs have 
approved digital transmission content protection over Internet protocol 
(``DTCP-IP'') technology as an acceptable method of content encryption 
to prevent content theft, and it is the content protection scheme used 
in the Digital Living Network Alliance (``DLNA'') standard. For these 
reasons, we believe that the DTCP-IP standard would be a logical choice 
for content encryption and device authentication, and we seek comment 
on that assessment. We also seek comment on whether it would be 
practical to give each navigation device its own specific key. We 
believe that this could prevent a situation in which entire model 
classes of navigation devices would need to be deauthorized in the 
event that a key were compromised. Should the Commission select a party 
to administer the public key database in the same manner that the 
Commission handled the white spaces database, or would the relevant 
industry parties be able to agree on a third party to handle 
maintenance of a public key database? In the event that commenters are 
in favor of a third party maintaining the public key database, we seek 
proposals regarding parties that can handle that task. We seek comment 
on the ideas presented here with respect to encryption and 
authentication. We seek comment also on any other proposals that could 
serve the encryption and authentication functions in an AllVid-
connected home network.
    29. Content Ordering and Billing. At least one party has indicated 
that MVPDs need the ability to verify that their subscribers have 
actually ordered pay-per-view and subscription content. What specific 
methods could the AllVid and navigation device use to facilitate 
ordering of pay-per-view and subscription content? We envision that the 
AllVid adapter would perform video rendering for the purpose of 
verifying a subscriber's purchase of MVPD content such as Video on 
Demand (``VOD'') or a subscription service. We seek comment on these 
issues, including any other proposals that would allow MVPDs to verify 
that a subscriber wishes to purchase a specific MVPD service.
    30. Service Discovery. TiVo suggests that Universal Plug and Play 
(``uPnP'') protocols would be ``an obvious technology choice for 
service discovery.'' TiVo explains that the only protocols that the 
Commission would need to adopt for service discovery are ``gateway 
advertisement, which allows a gateway to announce its presence to 
consumer devices on the home network, and service browsing, in which a 
consumer device can browse and access the available services on the 
gateway.'' We seek comment on TiVo's proposal and invite commenters to 
propose any other protocols that would allow a navigation device to 
discover MVPD content on a home network with an AllVid adapter. For 
example, to achieve the efficiencies that come with switched-digital 
video, devices attached to a cable network need to inform the cable 
headend when a subscriber stops watching a program. What protocols 
would be necessary for the AllVid adapter to query whether the 
navigation device still requires access to the program stream?
    31. Content Encoding. A recent controversy over audio-visual codec 
support has led to heightened awareness about the issue of content 
encoding. Ideally, navigation devices should be designed to decode 
content that has been encoded in a number of specified formats and the 
AllVid adapter should be designed to transfer content in at least one 
of those formats. This would allow MVPDs to encode their content as 
they wish without the need for the AllVid adapter to transcode the 
content, which could make the AllVid adapter more expensive and less 
energy efficient. We seek comment on whether the Commission would need 
to specify the formats, and, if so, on the audio-visual codecs that the 
Commission should require navigation devices to handle.
    32. Intellectual Property. The Commission seeks comment on 
intellectual property issues related to proposed standards for the 
AllVid adapter. How long would it take for the necessary standards to 
be developed, and what costs would be involved? Would a requirement 
that all rights holders license their relevant intellectual property on 
reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms allow the market to flourish and 
provide adequate incentives for innovation? Does the Commission have 
the legal authority to mandate such terms? We seek comment on whether 
patent pools exist for any technologies that might be adopted. We seek 
comment on the licensing fees charged by patent holders for these 
technologies, and which parties hold those rights. We also seek comment 
on any other intellectual property issues relevant to the AllVid 
    33. Other Issues. The Commission also seeks comment on any 
additional standardization work that would be necessary to implement 
the AllVid regime. For example, we seek comment on how the AllVid 
adapter should resolve resource conflicts. If a subscriber's home is 
equipped to handle six separate video streams and seven people in the 
home want to watch programming on seven different devices, which 
devices take precedence? Should the most recent device to make a 
request have the ability to override the conflict and choose which 
device to exclude? We seek comment on innovative ways to resolve device 
    34. Several commenters have highlighted issues regarding how a home 
network would handle emergency alert system (``EAS'') messages, closed 
captioning data, and MVPD parental controls. We note that there are 
existing standards to transmit closed captioning data and parental 
control data for broadcast television and unencrypted cable television. 
We seek comment on whether these standards can be adapted readily to 
perform these functions in the AllVid regime or whether new standards 
development is necessary. We note that development of a next generation 
EAS system is underway and seek comment on how EAS messages formatted 
in the Common Alerting Protocol could be carried in the AllVid system 
and received by devices. CEA and the Society of Cable 
Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) have both adopted standards for the 
carrying of EAS within the home network. We seek comment on what 
additional standards work is necessary to assure that retail devices 
receive and display EAS messages.
    35. We seek comment also on whether navigation devices in the 
AllVid system should include over-the-air ATSC tuners. The Commission's 
rules require

[[Page 27270]]

unidirectional digital cable devices to include an ATSC tuner. In the 
Second Report and Order, the Commission concluded that ``the public has 
come to understand that television receivers labeled or marketed as 
`cable ready' universally include the capability of receiving over-the-
air broadcast service.'' Would consumers similarly expect this 
equipment to receive over-the-air broadcast service? Does the 
Commission have the authority under the All-Channel Receiver Act to 
impose such a requirement?
    36. We seek comment also on differences in delivery technology that 
might require specific MVPD providers to include functionality beyond 
what is necessary for conditional access, provisioning, reception, and 
decoding of the signal. For example, given the DBS industry's 
inherently one-way distribution model, DISH Network and DIRECTV have 
indicated that home gateway devices for DBS would need to include hard 
drives for video caching to allow their subscribers to view VOD 
programming instantly and might need to include additional 
``intelligence.'' We seek proposals on any network-specific functions 
that may need to be included in particular operators' AllVid adapters. 
We also seek comment on how we could enable evolution of the AllVid 
system, with respect to both the components of the device and the 
output standards, in order to accommodate technological innovation over 
time. Finally, we seek comment on any other issues regarding the AllVid 
regime and specific proposals that would allow the Commission to 
resolve those issues.
    37. AllVid Support Requirements. The National Broadband Plan calls 
for Commission action to require MVPDs who offer digital navigation 
devices for lease to be prepared to offer AllVid equipment to their 
subscribers by December 31, 2012. We seek comment on that deadline, 
including measures that would be effective in enforcing it. To 
encourage MVPDs to adhere to this deadline, should the Commission take 
supplemental measures that would apply to MVPDs that are unable to 
deploy AllVid equipment to all new subscribers and to any subscribers 
who request AllVid equipment after this deadline (such as denying 
extensions of certain CableCARD waivers), or do the Commission's 
existing enforcement mechanisms, which allow the imposition of 
forfeitures, provide sufficient incentives for MVPDs to meet such a 
deadline? How can the Commission prevent an overabundance of waiver 
requests similar to the ones filed in response to the integration ban, 
which some have argued have brought about policymaking by waiver?
    38. In concept, the AllVid approach would provide a successor 
technology to CableCARD. While the Commission is separately proposing 
steps to ameliorate shortcomings in the retail market for CableCARD 
devices in the interim, we anticipate that AllVid devices could over 
time replace CableCARD devices on retail shelves. Accordingly, we seek 
comment on whether the Commission should consider eliminating its 
CableCARD rules, and if so, the appropriate date for such a change. We 
seek comment on consumer expectations regarding the lifespan of their 
devices, and whether the AllVid approach or any other approach could be 
implemented in a way that limits the number of CableCARD devices that 
become obsolete.
    39. Navigation Device Economics. Certain parties suggest that a 
retail market for navigation devices may be destined to fail because 
consumers are not interested in owning navigation devices. We seek 
comment on this assessment, including whether consumers prefer to lease 
at government-regulated ``cost-plus'' rates, whether consumers wish to 
avoid the risk of obsolescence of navigation devices, and whether 
consumers' inability to ``port'' a retail navigation device when he or 
she changes MVPDs limits the attractiveness of the retail option. The 
cable industry has adopted the leasing model, charging customers a 
monthly fee that allows consumers to avoid a larger upfront cost 
entailed by a retail purchase. To evaluate the leasing versus retail 
equipment models, we seek data on consumer behavior when faced with a 
lease versus purchase decision, concerning navigation devices and 
analogous consumer electronic devices. We expect that MVPDs will want 
to continue to offer devices for lease or sale that provide greater 
functionality than an AllVid adapter. Should we require those devices 
to attach to the AllVid network, through an adapter? How would our 
decision on whether operator-provided navigation devices must commonly 
rely on the AllVid network affect the economics of the retail and 
leasing markets?
    40. What are consumer expectations with respect to ``navigation 
devices?'' Traditionally, the Commission and interested parties have 
considered the term navigation devices to include televisions, set-top 
boxes (including DVRs), and home theater computers. Do these devices 
comprise the universe of navigation devices, and if not, what other 
devices could perform navigation device functions? Are there specific 
minimum functions that a navigation device needs to perform? Should 
there be different classifications of navigation devices, and if so, 
should the Commission dictate the minimum functionality requirements of 
specific classes? What steps can the Commission take to increase 
economic and energy efficiencies that will allow consumers to connect 
fewer devices to their television display by consolidating 
functionality into one device?
    41. Would MVPDs be at an advantage in providing set-top boxes 
because they could provide home installation whereas consumers 
typically would have to install devices purchased in the retail market 
themselves? Do MVPDs earn a profit on home installations or, if not, 
would self-installations of retail devices by MVPD customers save MVPDs 
money? We seek comment also on the assertion that the cost of bringing 
navigation device functionality into television sets exceeds what 
consumers are willing to pay at retail. We seek data on consumer 
purchasing behavior regarding home entertainment equipment. To what 
extent are consumers willing to pay for additional functionalities in 
the equipment they purchase? Would the AllVid concept change the 
economics of consumer preferences? How much would an AllVid adapter 
cost? How much would it cost to add AllVid compatibility to a 
navigation device? Should the cost of an AllVid adapter and charges for 
installation by the MVPD be calculated according to the Commission's 
rate regulation rules under section 76.923 in rate-regulated 
communities? Finally, we seek comment on whether economic or 
technological factors dictate that AllVid adapters would have to be 
provided by the MVPD, or whether AllVid adapters could be sold at 
retail, as NCTA has suggested in the past.
    42. Alternative Proposals. In response to NBP PN 27, 
several MVPDs expressed reservations about a ``home gateway'' 
technology mandate. These commenters suggest that the Commission should 
encourage market-driven negotiations and standards development to 
achieve the goals of section 629. In this vein, we seek alternative 
proposals to the AllVid concept that could lead to the implementation 
of a competitive market solution for smart video devices by December 
31, 2012. We also seek input on whether the movement of functions away 
from navigation devices and into the cloud or network might represent a 
viable alternative. How would the AllVid proposal affect the 
development of downloadable security? Are there specific incentives 
that the Commission

[[Page 27271]]

could create that would expedite market negotiations and address the 
shortcomings of the current CableCARD regime discussed above?
    43. Other Issues. Content Presentation. Much of the innovation in 
television reception devices is related to easy-to-use graphical user 
interfaces; device manufacturers distinguish their products from one 
another by providing better user experiences. MVPDs argue, however, 
that a graphical user interface that is standard across its footprint 
makes consumer education and support easier; they also state that 
marketing agreements often require the MVPD to provide certain content 
within the electronic program guide. Providers also argue that multiple 
graphical user interfaces would create customer confusion with regard 
to whom subscribers should call with questions about problems 
associated with the user interface, service, and hardware 
compatibility. What steps should be taken to minimize any potential for 
confusion with regard to the appropriate provider of customer service 
for retail device product performance, warranty, and service-related 
issues? Given the inherent conflict between innovation and 
standardization, we seek comment on whether the Commission should adopt 
rules governing the way in which MVPD content is presented. What steps 
should be taken to protect agreements between MVPDs and content 
providers? Is there a way to balance MVPDs' interests in improved 
customer service and adherence to their marketing contracts against the 
consumer benefits that result from electronics manufacturers 
differentiating their products from competitors'? We seek comment on 
the best way to resolve this issue.
    44. We also seek comment on intellectual property issues associated 
with electronic programming guides. The Consumer Electronics 
Association asserts that consumers already pay for programming guide 
data as part of their subscription fees, that the data is not subject 
to intellectual property protection, and that therefore MVPDs should 
provide programming guide data in a form that would allow competitive 
devices to display the data as they wish. MVPDs disagree, arguing that 
the intellectual property issues related to electronic programming 
guide presentation and data are more complex than the Consumer 
Electronics Association suggests. In addition to seeking comment on the 
intellectual property issues, we seek specific proposals for solutions 
or reasonable compromises that could address those issues and achieve 
the objectives of this proceeding. For example, would it be reasonable 
for MVPDs to charge separately for guide data, thereby saving 
subscribers who use third-party data from having to pay for the same 
data twice?
    45. Authority. The DC Circuit has found that section 629 gives the 
Commission broad discretion to adopt regulations to assure a 
competitive market for navigation devices. Throughout this proceeding, 
certain parties have argued that the Commission lacks the authority to 
require MVPDs to disaggregate their programming guides and allow retail 
devices to ``repackage'' their content. Section 629 directs the 
Commission to adopt regulations to assure the retail commercial 
availability of navigation devices, and the DC Circuit's review has 
been ``particularly deferential'' in cases where the ``FCC must make 
judgments about future market behavior with respect to a brand-new 
technology.'' We seek further comment on our authority under section 
629 of the Act.

IV. Procedural Matters

    46. Ex Parte Rules. This is an exempt proceeding in which ex parte 
presentations are permitted (except during the Sunshine Agenda period) 
and need not be disclosed.
    47. Filing Requirements. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of 
the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may 
file comments on or before July 13, 2010; reply comments are due on or 
before August 12, 2010. Comments may be filed using: (1) The 
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), (2) the Federal 
Government's eRulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies. See 
Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 
    48. Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using 
the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/ or 
the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    49. Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an 
original and four copies of each filing. If more than one docket or 
rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    50. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by 
commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. 
Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    51. Effective December 28, 2009, all hand-delivered or messenger-
delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be 
delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, 
Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before 
entering the building. The filing hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    52. Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
    53. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail 
must be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    54. People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).
    55. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex 
parte submissions will be available for public inspection during 
regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal 
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., CY-A257, Washington, 
DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents 
will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe 
    56. Accessibility Information. To request information in accessible 
formats (computer diskettes, large print, audio recording, and 
Braille), send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the FCC's Consumer 
and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-
0432 (TTY). This document can also be downloaded in Word and Portable 
Document Format (PDF) at: http://www.fcc.gov.
    57. Additional Information. For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Steven Broeckaert, [email protected], 
Brendan Murray, [email protected], of the Media Bureau, Policy 
Division, (202) 418-2120, or Alison Neplokh, [email protected], of 
the Media Bureau, Engineering Division, (202) 418-1083.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
[FR Doc. 2010-11388 Filed 5-13-10; 8:45 am]