Gateway to the Future of Video

Posted by: Chris Boyer on August 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

Earlier this year, I wrote about AT&T’s plans to enable AT&T U-verse TV subscribers to use their Xbox 360 (and, potentially further down the road, Windows 7 PCs) as a U-verse set-top box (STB).  I also talked about how those plans had the potential to be responsive to FCC Chairman Genachowski’s call for more innovation in the video device marketplace, which in turn could increase broadband adoption.

In April, the FCC initiated a proceeding to review whether or not video providers, such as AT&T, should be required to install a gateway device in subscribers’ homes that would enable third party retail devices to access video services over the home network without the need for a STB on each TV.  We recently filed reply comments in this proceeding.

AT&T has long emphasized that it is not interested in serving as the exclusive provider of equipment for our U-verse TV service.  To the contrary, our goal is to maximize the inherent flexibility of offering a 100% IPTV-based service that provides cutting-edge content and applications over a broad range of devices and across multiple screens.

We have engaged in a series of discussions with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), spearheading the development of IPTV interoperability principles and co-chairing CEA’s IPTV Oversight and Coordination Committee.  This group included IPTV, cable and content providers, satellite operators, and consumer electronic companies, and was tasked with ensuring the development of interoperability standards for IPTV.

These efforts culminated in a proposal for a “carrier gateway device” similar to what the FCC has proposed.  However, to the extent that this model has foundered to date it has been because of an impasse over the extent to which a CE device would replicate the user interface or “look and feel” of the video service. 

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Hey…Sports Fans, FCC Tells Cable Companies to Play Fair!

Posted by: Bob Quinn on January 20, 2010 at 12:46 pm

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave sports fans a reason to tailgate today by adopting rules to bring sports programming to more video providers.  Ultimately, this means consumers will have more choices in how and from who they receive programming they want.

While we still have to review the full details of the FCC’s ruling, the positive effects of the FCC’s decision should ultimately enable consumers in all markets to exercise their ability to choose an alternative video provider without having to give up rooting for their own local sports teams.  We are hopeful that with these new rules, consumers in Connecticut will no longer have to watch their favorite sports teams in standard definition just because they want to sign up for AT&T’s award-winning U-verse video service, nor will baseball fans in San Diego have to give up the Padres to make the same choice. [Cox and Cablevision complaints.]

Consumers should give the FCC a well deserved standing ovation for coming off the bench to once and for all close the so-called terrestrial loophole that has long deprived consumers of local sports programming. Today’s action by the FCC beefs up the rules to ensure that AT&T’s U-verse TV service with its 2 million and growing subscribers are able to view the content that they want.

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TOPICS: Video
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U-Verse TV, Video Game Consoles and Broadband Deployment

Posted by: Chris Boyer on January 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and while there’s been a lot of buzz about AT&T’s announcing its support of Android phones and about the usual new CE devices like tablet PCs, netbooks, e-readers and 3D TVs that were on display, I want to highlight an underappreciated announcement that has public policy implications for video services.

In his keynote address on Wednesday evening, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that both the Xbox 360 and Windows 7 PCs will support Microsoft Mediaroom, Microsoft’s IPTV solution that powers AT&T’s U-verse service.  As Ballmer mentioned, AT&T is planning to introduce the option for U-verse TV customers to use their Xbox 360 as a U-verse set-top box later this year.  There is the potential of doing the same for Mediaroom-capable PCs in the future.

Why is this important to policymakers?  Last month the FCC issued an inquiry as part of its National Broadband Plan raising several questions related to set-top boxes which, as explained by Saul Hansell in the NY Times Bits Blog included “Why can’t that box you get from your cable company also get programs over the Internet and from other sources?” and “Would the availability of set-top boxes in retail stores encourage people to get broadband Internet service…and create a competitive market in devices that hook up to cable systems?”

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TOPICS: Video
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