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TiVo complains to FCC about SDV use

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 22 Feb 2010 21:08 User comments (4)

TiVo complains to FCC about SDV use TiVo Inc. has reached out to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over concerns that the use of Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology by Cable providers will destroy its business. While traditional cable infrastructure delivers all available channels at once to subscribers' receivers, SDV will deliver only the channels currently being accessed.
The benefits of SDV are obvious; savings in bandwidth for one and the possibility of setting up systems with multiple times the channels currently being offered to subscribers. The system requires a receiver to send an upstream signal to a cable headend to request a signal be sent down the cable; a TiVo box cannot do this and relies on infrastructure that allows it to simply lock on to the available signals.

In a nutshell, this means that a TiVo box cannot change a channel on a SDV-based system, whereas a provider-issued box can. TiVo attacks the industry in a filing with the FCC on the issue, pointing out that TiVo is the "only major competitive entrant left standing" in the DVR space. It attributes this position to Cable's historical reluctance to open networks to third-party hardware, as opposed to natural free-market forces.

"It is reasonable to foresee that the majority of, if not all, video programming will be SDV in the not too distant future," says TiVo. "Without immediate FCC action, no market for competitive video devices can emerge." SDV has been around for a while, but TiVo has found a new urgency due to an inflating number of U.S. households with SDV-based hookups.

In 2008, an estimated 25 million U.S. homes used a cable service driven by SDV, and by 2009 the number had increased to 35 million. To resolve the issue, Cable providers demand that TiVo should adopt the "tru2way" platform, but TiVo is looking for a less restrictive and simpler approach. The DVR-maker would much prefer to use broadband signaling (more or less using the Internet) to communicate with the headend and request signals.

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4 user comments

123.2.2010 18:25

WAH! WAH! WAH!!! Cry me a river.. Tivo has to be one of the biggest babies in the tech business. Sounds like they need to update their systems to compete with advancing technologies. They are doing this to conserve unused bandwidth and hopefully will translate into better speeds for other services like internet and VOIP technology. I fail to see how this is an FCC issue and if Tivo wants to try and force cable companies to stream out every channel to every home all the time just so their boxes work it sounds crazy to me. If you can't compete you either adapt or fade away, but don't stop other companies that are providing the tv service to hold back on technologies that can ultimately benefit the consumer and possibly the company that could result in lower prices and higher availability.

225.2.2010 7:55

Actually, they have a point. The option that Cable has said they use is restrictive and not easy to implement. If everyone goes to SDV then TiVo, pretty much the only company that offers DVR capabilities will go out of business. They are trying to have it changed to where Cable can still use SDV, yet in a way that won't force them out of business. Yes, I would like it if prices for cable went down, but history shows that they say if they do this, prices will go down to get it approved, but they don't lower the price.

31.3.2010 13:32

Ohh please bobiroc...

The cable companies want and have wanted the video space all to themselves for decades. They will do anything they can to squash any company that is a threat to their bottom line. They made it impossible for sat companies to distribute local airwaves to keep a competitive edge, until the FCC was involved. This is no different, they want to change channel distribution so that their DVR hardware is the only thing that can record their bandwidth. This doesn't just hurt TIVO, it hurts consumers. Consumers that use homebrew DVR's are going to be screwed just as much as consumers that use older TIVO products.

In addition.. Cable will not lower their prices. I was paying $150 a month with an additional $15 a month for 3 converter cards for my homebrew DVRs. What will they do? Reduce their monthly to $125, then nickle and dime me for 3 DVRs and converter cards for another $45 a month rental. Plus then I won't be able to store those shows locally to a computer, etc. Lots of inconvenience for the savvy consumer, IMHO.

If I was a TIVO customer and I was told that none of their older DVRs worked with the new cable system, I would be pissed if I had to buy all new gear. TIVO would go out of business.

41.3.2010 15:49

My comment was not about the cable companies, it was about Tivo's attitude like they own the entire DVR Marketspace. They have sued just about every competitor for anything related to DVR technology. They sued Echostar(Dish Network) and AT&T (U-Verse) claiming that those companies copied their technology. I have read information on both those cases and I think that Tivo just likes to sue because companies that provide TV Service with a DVR are hurting their business because people do not want to go out and pay hundreds of dollars for a DVR and separate monthly fee to Tivo to provide the same basic service. Tivo did not invent DVR technology and they may have been an innovator in the business but if a competing company provides a service similar to theirs Tivo just sues.

In the case with Tivo vs AT&T Tivo claims that AT&T stepped on their patents and Microsoft stepped in and said Uh no, AT&T's DVRs use our DVR technology which conveniently does not step on any Tivo's patents.

While there may be some gray areas here I still think Tivo is a big baby and their products suck. They are more restrictive than what is offered by the TV Service providers and lock you into their technology and basically Tivo expects these service providers to make sure their TV service works with Tivo's products when it should be the other way around.

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