Friday, May 29, 2009

FireWire Inside, Part Two

In reality, the main reason the cable companies complained about 1394 had little to do with fairness.  The bigger issue for them was the fact that 1394 was mandated by the FCC in an effort to remove control of content from the cable companies and give it to the consumers.  In the words of the FCC, “The consumer should be able to control the content they paid for.”  To be fair to the FCC, they were tasked with this objective by Congress as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 as spelled out in the infamous Section 629.  Section 629 stipulates that consumers must be given the option of using retail products to receive cable content and to record cable content independent of devices controlled by the cable companies.  

The cable industry does not like to lose control of content and they do not like their customers to buy devices from retail; depriving the cable guys from the revenue stream of leased boxes.  In a display of classic passive-aggressive behavior, they added 1394 connectors to cable boxes with little or no supporting software.  This rendered the 1394 ports brain dead.  They were able to then report to the FCC that 1394 was a bad technology and did not work.  With some 1394 industry pushback, the FCC saw through this guise and left the 1394 mandate in tact.  However, the games played by the cable companies did succeed in poisoning the well for 1394 A/V products for a season.  1394 products such as the digital VHS VCR fizzled as well as AV HDDs.  HDTV sets with 1394 shrank from 180 models in 2005 to half that by 2007.  However, this trend is now turning around.  1394 is on the rebound.

FireWire YouTube Videos by Jeff Cat

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