Post

Follow up on right-to-attach to walled gardens [UPDATED]

November 27, 2007 , , , ,

I wanted to drop a note on a couple of recent developments since my post on right-to-attach last week. They are:

  • NCTA and TiVo Announce Switched Digital Solution for HD DVRs: TiVo and the cable industry have worked out a deal on switch-digital. TiVo users have had (or may have soon) their boxes rendered useless because of the new broadcast protocol for cable television called switch digital. Cable's new solution? Require those new TiVo boxes to use a mini-cablebox to see content with a USB connection to flip thru channels. This emphasizes my point that cable's “solution” to all problems is not to open up their network to open standards, but instead to increasingly require all 3rd party manufacturers to use a cable box. Will consumers have to rent this mini-cablebox from the cable company for an additional fee (on top of the CableCARDs they're already renting for the digital TiVos)? Is that fee plus the TiVo subscription more than what the consumer would pay for cable's own DVR? Yes, it's good for subscribers that the parties came to a solution in the short-run, however, the solution perpetuates cable's gateway status in the long run.

  • Verizon Wireless to Introduce 'Any Apps, Any Device' Option for Customers in 2008: Verizon is saying that it wants 3rd party developers / manufacturers to be able to attach software and devices to its network. Sounds great and if done openly would be a good step forward. Their release talks of soon-to-be published technical standards that devices and software must be built to, however, one big issue is this concept that all 3rd party devices must be submitted to and approved by Verizon. Sounds a whole lot like CableLabs, and you've heard our complaints about the gatekeeper approving the devices that attach to its network. Until we know more, I'll be cautiously optimistic about Verizon's announcement. One thing is for sure, this wouldn't be a development if we weren't successful at pushing the envelope in the 700Mhz auction rules.

UPDATE:

Just after I posted, more information about the Verizon announcement came out on Gizmodo. Some interesting details from that post are:

  • On homemade devices:

If somebody has the technical capability of building a device on a breadboard and they want to bring it to be tested, the philosophy of this program says “Have at it!” If it is tested and passes, it can get on the network. Does it make it hard to be the small guy on the block? Not now, with availability of components, etc. The provider of the device would have some fee that they would pay. I think it's going to be surprisingly reasonable – it's not gonna have many many zeroes on the back. They will be very reasonable fees for professional services rendered.

  • Devices from other CDMA Carriers:

If somebody wants to bring a device over from any other CDMA carrier or somewhere else, if it passes the test and operates on our frequencies, they can. [Can someone move from Sprint to Verizon?] The short answer is “Yes.”

  • On service plans:

Depending on the type of device, different usage models will apply. If there's a device that only access network once a month to update, the idea of a utility meter reading comes to mind. If it's doing video download, something else makes sense.

There are more details on Gizmodo's post, please check it out.