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Comment Roku with Cable Card (Score 1) 37

I think what most people would love to have is a Roku with a cable card. The current hardware won't do MPEG-2; otherwise people would pair the Roku with a HD Homerun Prime. The Prime can tune three channels, so you would need one cable card for three Rokus/TVs. If Roku did this, they would crush the set-top box market.

Comment Re:Previous Plan Preferred (Score 1) 37

One other point: Cable channels are currently sent in MPEG-2 via encrypted QAM over coax. With Fios, the box in your garage (ONT) converts the fibre signal to coax, but the signal is still the same MPEG-2 over QAM. Streaming services use MPEG-4. Boxes like the Roku don't even support MPEG-2, so it has to be re-encoded for streaming.

Eventually the cable companies may switch to MPEG-4, but that requires replacing all the existing cable boxes, and they're really happy getting $120/year for equipment that is already over a decade old.

Note that the one thing stopping you from pairing a HD Homerun Prime with a cable card and a Roku to switch from a set-top box to a cable card is the fact that Roku doesn't support MPEG-2. Otherwise I expect it would be a popular solution.

Comment Re:They could easily fix it but they dont want to (Score 2) 161

Yes, they could, but their strategy is to continue with the current model and lock people in with unique content. For now that means sports, as they've lost out on everything else while they were sleeping.

If they really wanted to copy the competition, Comcast would create their own channels and fund high-quality programming that isn't available elsewhere.

I think they're waking up now, but I don't think they know what to do about the situation, so they're digging their heels in.

Comment Cable Companies Hiding the Truth (Score 1) 161

The truth is that many more people are cutting cords than the numbers reflect. Cable companies mask this by creating bundles that have more services that are cheaper than going with just data. Many people keep a minimum TV service because it's cheaper than the unbundled Internet service. Some cable companies put data caps on only for non-TV customers. They want to pad their phone sales, too, so they'll do the same tricks there, making a triple play cheaper than a double play, at least for the initial contract period. (I did that once and never even had a cable modem with a phone-out plug.)

If cable companies were forced to price Internet, TV, and phone completely separately, I think the number of cord cutters would jump dramatically.

Comment Re:Isn't that what Cable Cards are for? (Score 1) 37

The first plan that they dropped was for software-only cable cards. This would mean you wouldn't have to pay a monthly rental fee for your cable card. If you terminate service or start new service, there would be no physical equipment to mess with.

What I don't understand is why you can't already go out and buy a cable-card set-top box and stop renting one from the cable company. Unfortunately, with the rental cost of a cable card, it might not save that much money.

Comment Previous Plan Preferred (Score 2) 37

The previous plan to require the cable companies to support a software-only cable card was better. That would allow TVs and set-top boxes to be built with native cable support--you would just need to do some configuring. It would use the same encrypted QAM signal that is coming in over the coax.

The app approach can be helpful, but it involves streaming the channels over the Internet instead of using the QAM signal that is already being sent. This has a number of downsides. Streamed video may be more highly compressed. It may be subject to dropped packets. Streaming may be subject to WiFi interference in places where coax already runs to the TV.

Another advantage of the virtual cable card is that cable cards allow for recording. I know people are shifting to streaming on demand as the most popular option, but many of us like to record on DVRs. I love my MythTV, and many people love their TiVos.

And then there's the privacy issue. How many times have I heard people complain about smart TVs sending data back to corporate servers for who-knows-what purpose? With a streaming app, you can't easily block that.

All said, what really makes sense is both. Require both a freely licensed streaming app and a software-only cable card. Prohibit charging a rental fee for cable cards or set-top boxes until they comply with the regulation.

Comment Re:Anti Trust (Score 2) 225

There's no law against monopolies.

There are laws that prohibit becoming a monopoly by merging with your competition. That's why mergers have to be approved by the government (many governments in the case of multinational corporations). Often mergers require spinning off divisions or other conditions to maintain some level of competition. Some have complained that regulators have been too lax or have applied the wrong standards in approving deals that lessened competition, but the point is that we do have laws. Amazon in acquired a lot of smaller companies, but most of their dominance has been grown internally.

There are laws that prohibit companies from abusing their dominance to force out competitors or to use their monopoly in one market to force a monopoly in another. These are the rules that led to the AT&T breakup and almost lead to a Microsoft breakup. In retrospect, many people thing the AT&T breakup was the best thing that could have happened to the company, and I would assert that Microsoft would have been a much better off if it had broken up into several separate companies. These are the rules that Google is often accused of breaking, using their dominance in search to gain dominance in other areas. All large companies have to watch out for these rules.

But if a company becomes a monopoly without buying out their competition and doesn't use their position in such a way to block potential competitors, then they are doing nothing illegal.

In short, there are no laws against monopolies in general, only against abusive monopolies.

Comment Re:What the Idiotic Hell./ (Score 1) 397

Popularity of a language is immaterial to the usefulness of a language,

Popularity = developers = tools and libraries = usefulness.

No matter how inherently superior a programming language might be, if nobody is working on it its ideas will never go anywhere except by being grafted onto other, popular languages.

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