One of the best chances for third party equipment to open the cable channels was the CableCard. However, implementation of third party devices that support CableCards, and the support from cable companies, were less than enthusiastic. I had very little success in using my TiVo series 3 with a JetBroadband cable card.

FCC Logo in words

Now the FCC issued a Notice Of Inquiry seeking input on a new technology to open up cable channels to other devices, breaking the settop box monopoly. Engadget has a nice summary, with the non-surprising camps: Sony, TiVo and the Consumer Electronics Association make up one side, the NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association) and the MPAA make up the other side. We won’t give away which side is in favor and which side is against.

But is this really the future of watching television in our homes? Since the NOI is the first step in a long process, we won’t see anything for years out of the FCC. By that time, the group of people watching TV in different forms (i.e. not through a settop box) will have grown even further. So any legislation coming out of this FCC process may be applicable or affecting only a small group of people who use old standards - similar to requiring the broadcaster to switch to digital broadcasting. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be watching Hulu, Google TV and Boxee Boxes, and ignoring whatever “new” technology the cable company tries to sell us…