Federal Communications Commission

Author Archive

Networking the Television: Set-top Box Innovation

December 7th, 2009 by Alison Neplokh

We’re taking a fresh look at how you access video – the full “5-W” analysis – who, what, where, when, why? Who controls how you access video? What video sources are you watching? Where do you watch it? When do you watch it? Why are there so many boxes and remote controls?  Oh, and how should we fix it?

We’ve been working on fostering innovation in the set-top box market since Congress directed us to just about 13 years ago. For a while, we thought CableCARD was the key, but it’s time to take a step back and ask if we’re doing this the right way. Since video is such a big part of why people want broadband, it’s especially worth asking the questions in the context of the broadband plan. 
We think that if you can use the same device to get video and other content from the Internet as you do to get video from your cable or satellite operator, then your experience with both will be so much better. But how do we resolve the conflict between allowing video providers to continue to provide innovative video services and giving TV manufacturers a standard to build something that will work for more than a few years? Who decides what security system to use, and how to distribute the keys? Even harder, does everyone have to use the same thing? Where does guide data come from, who pays for it, and who decides how it is used and displayed? How can we get different video providers to find enough common ground to build a system that works for satellite, cable, IPTV, and Internet video?
As an engineer and a lawyer, this problem has fascinated me for years. Your computer, wireless router, network printer, gaming consoles, and many other devices all work no matter what broadband connection you have – cable, DSL, fiber-to-the-home, satellite, or a dorm/office network connection. This works because the market has settled on Ethernet as the way to connect devices on a data network, and you have a device that converts from whatever platform you use to Ethernet.   But of course, you also need dozens of protocols to really experience the Internet. Does a home multimedia network standard provide the foundation for a competitive set-top box market? Or is there some other way to allow all of your sources of video to work with all of your televisions, computers, and DVRs?  
The first question is how you want to use your video sources. Then, how do we get there?
For more details, background and context on these issues, please see the Public Notice. You can respond directly to this blog or file comments in our Electronic Filing Comment System, using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file. Please title comments and reply comments responsive to this Notice as “Comments (or Reply Comments) – NBP Public Notice # 27.”


Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones