Tuesday, March 14, 2006

AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon Agree on IP-Enabled Video CPE Principles

AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced a series of principles designed to ensure the commercial availability of devices that attach to IP-enabled video networks.

The companies said they 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 support this position, the following framework of principles was released:

Principles for the Attachment of Devices to IP-enabled Video Service Provider Networks

  • 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.