Boxee uses FCC to get Comcast's attention

There's probably no simpler way to say this than the squeaky wheel gets the grease--especially in Washington, D.C.--where online video provider Boxee has managed to bring attention and possible resolution to cable's basic tier encryption policies and, perhaps, resurrect the AllVid initiative, research firm IMS Research said.

Boxee's contention, placed before the Federal Communications Commission, was that cable and specifically Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) was not allowed to encrypt its basic tier of cable programming because it interfered with over-the-top video providers like Boxee.

After some wrangling and some play by the FCC, the two have apparently reached an agreement  that calls for the creation--or resurrection--of an Ethernet-Digital Transport Adapter (E-DTA) can be used to deliver cable signals using DLNA protocol and breathes new life into the gasping AllVid initiative.

It is "an entirely new class of TV gateway server and set-top box … clearly related to the now-dormant proposal for AllVid, which also relied on a box to translate from the cable TV signal to DLNA," IMS Research senior analyst Stephen Froehlich said in a news release. "The E-DTA would be the simplest conceivable form of TV gateway server."

It would also, apparently, clear up the problem of opening basic cable tiers to OTT providers like Boxee.

"The essence of the solution is that cable companies will be able to move forward with encryption and that consumers will be able to continue to rely on devices such as the Boxee Box to access basic cable," Boxee press relations manager Liz Dellheim told IMS. "We have no information regarding timing. We presented the proposed solution to the FCC and will have to wait and see how the FCC takes it from here."

For its part, Comcast conceded in an ex parte filing with the federal agency that the negotiated solutions with Boxee "involves the development as soon as possible of a high definition digital transport adapter with an Ethernet connector (that) would enable a customer with a third party device to access basic tier channels directly through an Ethernet input on such third-party device or via the home network, and to change channels remotely in the E-DTA via a DLNA protocol."

Long-term, Comcast's filing said, "involves creation of a licensing path for integrating DTA technology into third party devices (that) could access encrypted basic tier channels without the need for a cable operator-supplied DTA or set-top box."

For more:
 - see the Boxee release
 - read the company's ex parte filing

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