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Guidelines Forged On Interoperability

Washington — The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and three major telecom companies have developed a set of guidelines they say will enable consumers to shop around at retail for future CE devices that will display video delivered by new IP video services.

The guidelines are promoted as giving consumers the “flexibility to attach a variety of CE devices to video service networks and consumer home networks.” The guidelines were unveiled today during CEA’s Entertainment Technology Policy Summit.

Said Susanne Guyer, Verizon’s federal regulatory affairs senior VP, “This is a key step toward assuring consumers that the electronic devices they buy will work seamlessly with advanced, IP-enabled services now being designed and deployed.”

The five guidelines promoted by the companies and CEA consist of:

Nationwide compatibility: Enabling CE manufacturers to develop devices that will operate nationwide on IP-enabled video service networks. The two non-exclusive options include the ability for a service provider device to attach to a home network, requiring IP-enabled service providers to support a common and mutually agreed upon set of home networking standards in leased equipment. The second option is plug-and-play attachment directly to the IP-enabled network, requiring common protocols and standards for IP-enabled services as delivered to the consumer’s home.

Use of open standards: Does not necessarily mean a single national standard for attachment to IP-enabled video networks but could include “multiple standards that encompass a complete solution in a cost-effective manner.”

Reasonable licensing terms: If some services incorporate proprietary aspects, “reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing terms should be available so that both CE manufacturers and video service providers are not unreasonably constrained from including necessary technologies within their respective products in order to ensure that CE devices can be connected to IP-enabled video networks, consistent with the other principles outlined herein.” In addition, licenses “should not impose unrelated or unnecessary burdens on licensees.”

Reasonable testing and certification procedures: Which will enable CE manufacturers and IP-enabled video service providers can obtain necessary approvals and bring products to market in a timely manner.

Reasonable terms of service for consumers: Whose service terms and conditions “should reasonably allow consumers to choose among various CE products to access their video services as long as such products do not cause electronic or physical harm to the network and do not enable unauthorized receipt of service.”

“IP-enabled video networks will provide consumers across the nation with a revolutionary new way to access their favorite video programs when and where they want,” said CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro. “In order to realize the full potential of this brave new world, consumers must be able to choose from the exciting array of innovative new devices being developed by consumer electronics manufacturers that attach to IP networks to receive video programming. We believe these principles will provide solid guidelines and help support an environment in which IP video can flourish.”