[opendtv] Re: Digital Trends: ESPN may pull its finger out of the Internet-TV dam, unleash a flood of change

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2014 00:16:56 +0000

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> The white spaces gobbled up nearly half the available spectrum to
> protect the other half.

That's absurd, Craig. You get lost in uninformed, vague generalities. The 
existence of guard bands is not a conspiracy against competition. With analog 
TV especially, the Europeans have the same situation as we did, with respect to 
locally unused frequency bands. You need these to provide interference-free, 
continuous coverage. (And, in fact, local low power stations can and do use 
those guard bands, in intervening markets.)

The "national broadcast footprint" you mention doesn't change anything, unless 
you're somehow conflating this spectrum policy issue with the theoretical 
possibility, only with DTV, of creating nationwide SFNs. In fact, this 
theoretical possibility couldn't be exploited, in Europe, because DVB-T1 is not 
*in practice* capable of providing this. To even approach huge nationwide SFNs, 
DVB-T1 would have to dial down to very low spectral efficiency. We went through 
all of this many, many times.

> The problem is that the government is doing nothing to break up
> these oligopolies, when it is clear that technology is no longer
> an is due with respect to bypassing the content and distribution
> oligopolies.

Even that isn't true. Isn't the government redefining what constitutes an MVPD 
service, to allow OTT sites to compete against the entrenched TV providers? 
Yes. Didn't the government force DTV receivers to be embedded in TV sets? Yes. 
Both of these increased competition. It doesn't matter whether a lot of the new 
channels show old movies. The government is not forcing them to only show old 
movies. How they will compete is changing day by day.

> The most notable change is that another government enabled oligopoly,
> the telcos, are starting to compete with cable and DBS for TV
> services,

Verizon FiOS competing against Cox and Comcast, when providing MPEG-2 TS 
broadcast channels, is merely a small transitional sideshow. Haven't you heard 
about Internet TV? Get past this MVPD obsession, Craig.

> What is more important is that other industries had to work around
> the barriers to competition that these standards created,

The only alternative, to make you happy, would have been free use of the IP. 
Yes, sometimes that works too. But paying royalties for IP is not "a barrier to 
competition," but rather "the cost of doing business."

> Compare this to the ATSC standard, which was already outdated by
> the time most consumers bought a HDTV. I would note that Bert
> rightfully pointed out the critical role that standards play in
> enabling the Internet transport of bits. We asked the FCC to do
> the same with DTV - i.e. just standardize the modulation and
> transport layers.

Craig continues to misunderstand what it takes to create a useful 
communications standard. Thank goodness the FCC had a clearer understanding.

The Internet is used only to "carry bits," as Craig says. But applications that 
run over the Internet must agree on encoding standards. So, even in the early 
days of the Internet, users on each end had to agree how characters, numerals, 
entire documents, spreadsheets, graphics, etc., were going to be encoded. Or 
they wouldn't be able to communicate. The Internet Protocols didn't care, but 
the end users did. At first, this was a mess. IT WAS VERY COMMON TO RECEIVE 
yet widespread, except at best ASCII text. Eventually, de-facto standards such 
as Lotus 123, WordPerfect, Adobe Acrobat, MS Word, emerged. (Wow! Just like 
Flash Player! What a concept!)

*But*, with DTV, the FCC had to create an APPLICATION, Craig, not just the 
pipe. The FCC had to create a standard way that EVERYONE could buy a TV and 
expect it to work. The ATSC had to standardize all the way up to the 
application layer.

And even then, Craig thought the ATSC had developed a "point solution." Not 
true, but in his defense, few people back then understood then what layered 
protocol standards were. In fact, right from the start, the ATSC added SD 
formats and, with publication of A/90, all manner of other possibilities opened 

I'm afraid that your misconceptions lead you to erroneous conclusions.


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