As the FCC gets ready to delve deeper into plug & play, companies and associations weighed in on the matter last week with comments. The often-lengthy filings were submitted Fri, with NCTA saying Tues it hadn’t waded through all of them. A key issue will be HDTV down resolution: the process of reducing HD quality so consumers can still enjoy it, but copies will be less than perfect (and so hopefully discouraging recording). Satellite already has this capability, but it’s an issue NCTA and the Consumer Electronics Assn could not agree on in drafting their 1-way plug & play proposal. NCTA, MPAA and Time Warner filed comments last week that support allowing cable operators the option to down res non-broadcast programming. Corduroy Crew and CEA strongly disagree with that. "The triggering of HDTV down resolution would be fundamentally unfair to people who’ve purchased HDTV receivers in good faith," CEA says. Another area of debate centers on how to inform consumers of digital cable-ready devices abilities and limits. Time Warner argues the FCC should encourage CE makers to provide consumers with "pre-sale information," while CEA thinks that’s "counter productive" and confusing. Instead, it expects a slate of media coverage and consumer campaigns to hit by July 1, when MSOs nationwide are set to support CableCARD products. "Three major industries have an interest in avoiding consumer disappointment, product returns or service calls," CEA says. "Their joint efforts should be sufficient and well focused, so as to make any static pre-sale labeling requirements unnecessary, and potentially confusing to consumers."

The Daily


Early Signs Positive for Emergency Broadband Benefit Uptake

The FCC’s $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program kicked off with a bang Wednesday, and some 825 providers sat ready to answer consumer questions and get folks signed up for subsidies. Thus far, all has gone to plan and consumer interest is coming in either consistent with or in excess of providers’ early predictions.

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