As telecommunications providers begin to launch video services for consumers nationwide, AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today announced a series of principles designed to ensure the commercial availability of devices that attach to Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled video networks. The companies joined CEA in unveiling the principles at a press conference held during CEA's "Entertainment Technology Policy Summit" running March 15-16 in Washington, D.C.
"IP-enabled video networks will provide consumers across the nation with a revolutionary new way to access their favorite video programs when and where they want," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "In order to realize the full potential of this brave new world, consumers must be able to choose from the exciting array of innovative new devices being developed by consumer electronics manufacturers that attach to IP networks to receive video programming. We believe these principles will provide solid guidelines and help support an environment in which IP video can flourish."
"AT&T is pleased to enter this agreement that promises to establish a framework between the consumer electronics manufacturers and Internet Protocol or IP-enabled video service providers to enable the commercial availability of devices that consumers can use in their home to watch IP-enabled video services," said Dorothy Attwood, AT&T senior vice president, regulatory planning and policy. "We look forward to bringing a new entertainment experience to our customers by delivering programming that consumers want while protecting the rights of our partners in the content community."
"As BellSouth continues to investigate IPTV, we are excited to endorse these principles," said Jonathan Banks, vice president, Executive and Federal Regulatory Affairs for BellSouth. "They lay the groundwork for consumer electronics companies to both innovate and bring equipment to consumers that will increase the value of the IPTV experience."
"This is a key step toward assuring consumers that the electronic devices they buy will work seamlessly with advanced, IP-enabled services now being designed and deployed, stated Susanne Guyer, senior vice president of Federal Regulatory Affairs for Verizon. "Industry leaders like Verizon are pushing ahead with the open standards needed to make this type of interoperability a reality. Consumers' interests are better served by voluntary marketplace efforts such as these rather than by government regulation."
Principles for the Attachment of Devices to
IP-enabled Video Service Provider Networks
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), AT&T, BellSouth and
Verizon agree that consumers will benefit if they have the flexibility
to attach a variety of CE devices to video service networks and
consumer home networks. To provide consumers this choice over video
service networks using IP-enabled technology, we believe that the
following framework should apply to facilitate the existence of a
retail market for such devices:
1. Nationwide compatibility. We will strive to achieve nationwide
compatibility enabling CE manufacturers to develop devices that will
operate nationwide on IP-enabled video service networks. We
acknowledge that technical and economic realities may preclude
nationwide uniformity among all networks. Nonetheless, we believe it
is possible for video service networks to include enough nationwide
commonality for CE manufacturers to design products in a
cost-effective manner that will operate nationwide and across
IP-enabled service provider platforms. There are two non-exclusive
options to meet the goal of nationwide compatibility. The first
option, more readily achievable in the short term, is attachment in a
home networking architecture on the consumer side of a service
provider device. Home networking attachment requires all IP-enabled
service providers to support a common and mutually agreed upon set of
home networking standards in leased equipment. Except to protect
against electronic or physical harm to the network or unauthorized
receipt of services, no technical specification, license, subscriber
agreement, or other requirement should prevent consumers from
accessing services across personal home networks. The second option is
plug and play attachment directly to the IP-enabled network, which
requires common protocols and standards for IP-enabled services as
delivered to the consumer's home.(1)
2. Open standards. The use of open standards is critical so that CE
manufacturers can play a role in the development of technologies
necessary to build compatible devices. In this context an open
standard is a standard developed in a forum that: (1) allows
meaningful participation by all interested parties, (2) requires
consensus (though not necessarily unanimous) decision making, (3)
affords due process rights to all participants, and (4) openly
discloses licensing terms which are at least reasonable and
non-discriminatory. Standards created by ANSI-accredited bodies meet
these criteria. An open standard does not necessarily mean a single
national standard for attachments to IP-enabled video networks and may
consist of a solution set of multiple standards that encompass a
complete solution in a cost effective manner.
3. Reasonable licensing terms. To the extent that there are
proprietary aspects to IP-enabled video service networks, reasonable
and non-discriminatory licensing terms should be available so that
both CE manufacturers and video service providers are not unreasonably
constrained from including necessary technologies within their
respective products in order to ensure that CE devices can be
connected to IP-enabled video networks, consistent with the other
principles outlined herein.
Further, licenses for these technologies should not impose unrelated
or unnecessary burdens on licensees, such as the inclusion or
exclusion of additional features in products that are separate from
the features related to accessing the services provided by the service
4. Reasonable testing and certification procedures. Reasonable testing
and certification procedures should be established so CE manufacturers
and IP-enabled video service providers can obtain necessary approvals
for products and can bring products to market in a timely manner.
Product testing and certification should be transparent and focused on
ensuring that devices conform to the applicable specifications, do not
cause electronic or physical harm to the video service networks, and
do not enable unauthorized receipt of service.
5. Reasonable terms of service for consumers. Service terms and
conditions should reasonably allow consumers to choose among various
CE products to access their video services as long as such products do
not cause electronic or physical harm to the network and do not enable
unauthorized receipt of service. Subscriber agreements should allow
the attachment of devices that meet the technical, licensing, and
testing/approval criteria described herein.
(1) IP-enabled video service provider networks include but are not
limited to end-to-end IP networks and/or hybrid QAM/IP networks.