Categorized | PVR News

FCC Enforces Firewire Enabled Cable Boxes

Posted on 29 April 2004 by

It seems that the FCC continues to “Fight for the Consumer” (editors note: when they aren’t too busy harrassing Stern or relaxing media conglomerate restrictions)and this time they make it easier to get HDTV from your cable box. In a blog from Gizmodo. It seems that cable companies are being forced by the FCC to add a firewire port to every cable box for every consumer that wants it (starting April 1st).

I was unable to verify the story, but if it’s true it might make HDTV PVRs easier to build. Read more for the text of the blog entry.

As of April 1st, cable companies are required to provide a Firewire-enabled cable box to anyone that asks, as per an FCC interpretation of Section 304 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. What this means to you is that easy ripping and recording of HDTV streams is just a phone call to your cable company away–at least those streams that are unencrypted (broadcast stations are required to remain unencrypted, and while most premium channels are open now, too, they likely won’t be for long). Not only can you record shows and watch them on your computer, but the Firewire port allows you to stream video back to your TV, making the cable box, if nothing else, an extremely easy way to get a high-quality signal back into your existing A/V setup.

MacOSXHints has a howto for Apple users with more information, but there’s no reason that, with a little futzing here and there, users of any OS wouldn’t be able to take advantage of this rare consumer advocacy from the FCC.