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Cable Ops On Set Tops: Don't Fence Us In

operators say the FCC is on the right track in seeking a navigation device that
brings together various forms of content, but suggests it is risking locking in
set-top standards that could threaten the very flexibility and innovation FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski promotes.

comments in the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (NOI) into creating a navigation device
that would wed on-line and traditional video delivery, the National Cable &
Telecommunications Association said it was crucial that the commission
"leave industry with the flexibility to test and use diverse solutions
that can adapt to rapid changes in technology, competition, and consumer
demand." NCTA warned against
"premature standardization," and artificial restraints in the guise
of "common reliance."

went so far as to say the FCC was, "to some extent," (it did not say
to what extent), "the NOI suggests unworkable (and unlawful) elements of
disaggregation and disintermediation of the cable business."

it said that the FCC was trying for the right outcome, the group also suggested
its aim was far off. The notice of inquiry, said NCTA, "fails to account
for how constraining innovation will harm consumers, how data is actually
delivered to devices, how devices interact back with the network, how the
integrity of programming and advertising is protected, how the distribution of commercial
video content is secured through licenses, and the role that intellectual
property plays in shaping architectures."

FCC's goal in the inquiry, launched last April, is to come up with a
"gateway" platform that works with all multichannel video providers
and that will "spur innovation, draw users to broadband, and change how
people perceive and use broadband."

inquiry is the first step toward implementing the FCC national broadband plan
of opening up the market for access to MVPD service and uniting access to
broadband and traditional video delivery. The FCC sees that as a way to drive
broadband adoption since 99% of homes have TV's, while more like 75%-80% have