Washington – Late last year, while reauthorizing satellite carriage of TV signals, Congress instructed the FCC to update its rules on interoperability for TV navigation devices.   Implementing the new law, the FCC has just announced the members of its Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC). They will be expected to come up with consensus standards for home electronic TV boxes as cable operators move to Internet Protocol (“IP”) transmission and consumers increasingly want to access online TV programs in a more seamless way.

Fortunately, the DSTAC is comprised mostly of engineers from industry and academia. That will avoid political squabbling over the mission at hand.   They include folks from CCIA members Amazon, Google Samsung, and TiVo.   The Cable TV industry is also well represented.

The nationwide transition from analog to digital (“DTV”) broadcast television was accomplished through similar public and private planning and cooperation in 2009.   A coalition of broadcast, cable, consumer electronics, and retail stakeholders put aside their differences and worked together to assure a smooth transition.  TV viewers also deserve a competitive free market for next gen TV navigation devices.

The DSTAC has until early September to produce recommendations for “technology and platform neutral” technical standards to promote the competitive availability of any “navigation” device to receive and store cable programming. This presents an historic opportunity to free consumers from the need to pay ever increasing monthly fees to rent a TV interface device from their cable operator, like their parents and grandparents once rented big black rotary dial phones from AT&T.

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