Evolution: STB Rules Could Incur ‘Massive Costs’ for Small Ops

Get complete coverage of the FCC's set-top proposal.

Evolution Digital, a supplier that works with a wide range of independent MSOs, said it looks forward to hearing more following the FCC’s vote to approve chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal for "unlocking" the cable set top, but that the company still has reservations about the potential economic impact it could have on tier 2 and tier 3 MVPDs.

“Evolution Digital looks forward to Chairman Wheeler’s presentation tomorrow regarding the FCC’s set top box proposal,” Brent Smith, president and CTO of Evolution Digital, said in a statement. “ However, the information that we have to date from Chairman Wheeler gives us pause, due to the implications to both small cable providers and their customers if this proposal applies to all MVPDs.”

Though Wheeler has said the proposal does not employ the “AllVid” concept, which would involve the use of a separate device, Evolution sees two options for smaller cable operators to comply with the rules. They would need to either:

1.Completely simulcast their current linear cable service in IP, in order to support a common interface for third party devices.

2. Add an additional device in the home (CPE) to enable the conversion of their proprietary QAM video content, into a “common” IP video stream that could interface with a third party device. 

Either option, Evolution Digital argued, would “incur massive costs for Tier 2 and Tier 3 cable operators” and result in price hikes – things that would run counter to the aims of the initiative.

Smaller MVPDs, the company noted, are looking to migrate gracefully to IP video, but the urgency of the rules would be “too great of a burden for small cable operators,” forcing them to rapidly “switch to all-IP in a timeline that is unfeasible with current resources and technological capabilities.”

“It is our hope that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are exploring these issues with great concern,” said Smith, who was a member of the FCC-appointed  Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC) formed last year.