Advanced Television

TiVo complains to FCC over SDV use

February 24, 2010

TiVo is appealing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over concerns that the use of Switched Digital Video (SDV) technology by cable providers will destroy its business. While traditional cable infrastructure delivers all available channels at once to STBs, SDV will deliver only the channels currently being accessed.

The benefits of SDV are obvious; savings in bandwidth for one and the possibility of setting up systems with multiple times the channels currently being offered to subscribers. The system requires a receiver to send an upstream signal to a cable headend to request a signal be sent down the cable; a TiVo box cannot do this and relies on infrastructure that allows it to simply lock on to the available signals.

In a filing with the FCC TiVo attacks the industry pointing out that TiVo is the “only major competitive entrant left standing” in the DVR space. It attributes this position to Cable’s historical reluctance to open networks to third-party hardware.

“It is reasonable to foresee that the majority of, if not all, video programming will be SDV in the not too distant future,” said TiVo. “Without immediate FCC action, no market for competitive video devices can emerge.” SDV has been around for a while, but TiVo has found a new urgency due to an inflating number of US households with SDV-based hook-ups.

In 2009, an estimated 35 million US homes used a cable service driven by SDV. To resolve the issue, Cable providers demand that TiVo should adopt the “tru2way” platform, but TiVo is looking for a less restrictive and simpler approach. The DVR-maker would much prefer to use broadband signalling (more or less using the Internet) to communicate with the headend and request signals.

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