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CEA To FCC: Force Cable/CE Compatibility

The Consumer Electronics Association recently asked the Federal Communications Commission to actively ensure compatibility between digital cable equipment and consumer electronics devices.

The comments were filed in response to a required status report on implementing Feb. 22, 2000, agreements between CEA and the National Cable Television Association. CEA said individual cable companies have shown a lack of commitment to standardized cable/CE compatible systems and that only “nominal” progress has been made.

In the filing, CEA reported members, “Remain unable to design or build any products with minimum competitive functionality for direct operation on a cable system.”

CEA charged that certain cable operators have failed to support an open standards process and continue to make major infrastructure investments in proprietary digital cable equipment and systems, including their own enhanced electronic program guides.

The cable industry, CEA said, has failed to sign off on middleware and other systems needed to complete a standardized point-of-deployment (POD) host device, which consumer electronics manufacturers must have to develop cable-compatible consumer electronics products for retail.

“Manufacturers are unable to build compatible products for sale in a competitive marketplace,” CEA’s statement reads.

Cable operators must agree to carry Program and System Information Protocol (PSIP) DTV channel guide data to ensure consumers will be able to channel surf with a television set’s remote, instead of being locked into the program guide supplied by individual cable companies, according to CEA.

Another issue of concern to CEA is the cable industry’s support of “onerous copyright provisions” in the POD-Host interface license that manufacturers are required to sign in order to manufacture cable-compatible products.

CEA said the provision limits home recording rights, controls market entry of new CE equipment and functions, compromises manufacturers’ intellectual property rights and threatens the continued interoperability of legacy equipment in homes.