Attitudes from the Editor
Looks like there might be some light at the end of the cable. An announcement from Panasonic proclaimed that the DTV manufacturer was the first to sign a POD-Host Interface License Agreement (PHILA) with CableLabs to produce high definition cable-ready televisions with Point of Deployment Card capability. Yes, HD-cable! Is this a sign that the last hurdle to widespread high-definition adoption is speeding us? The FCC has already told manufacturers to start putting ATSC tuners in the TVs or else. Now cable?
The PHILA agreement is a critical component to CableLabs OpenCable project, which would make DTV-ready cable TVs available at retail, rather than forcing consumers to rent or purchase set-top boxes from cable service providers. The Point of Deployment (POD) card, similar to the smart cards in DIRECTV tuners, would be distributed by cable operators to their customers. The card would unlock services and capabilities in the TV and the cable operator's signal.
This means that when customers ask you how they can get HDTV, you don't have to talk about dishes or antennas (unless you want to). Of course, this announcement alone doesn't mean that DTV-cable ready TVs are just around the corner. A Panasonic spokesperson told me the company doesn't know when it plans to make products available (though next year is likely), or what percent of it's HDTV line will include POD slots. It also doesn't mean the cable companies are ready to give up their set-top box business and start shipping out smart cards tomorrow. But it's a start.