Samsung is looking to bring to market a new Smart Media Player set top box with a CableCard slot for traditional subscription video services and a broadband connection for over-the-top (OTT) streaming video services, according to a recent filing with the FCC.
The device is slated for a summer release, though no other launch details have been confirmed since the filing still has to meet FCC approval. Samsung seeks an FCC waiver that would allow the company to avoid putting an analog tuner into the box, according to a report from the Zatz So Funny blog. TiVo already makes a DVR set top box with CableCard that covers both traditional TV and OTT video, and actually requested the same allowance from the FCC previously, but the governing body has yet to make a ruling.
The FCC stipulated new rules in December 2012 that allows cable operators to add basic tiers to their all-digital systems. Samsung’s proposed media player would apparently include a QAM digital tuner, but not an analog one. The company cites decreased demand now that cable operators are almost fully digital as its reason. Adding analog tuners to conform with the FCC rules would make the device more expensive because of power requirements and other factors.
Samsung hopes the FCC can expedite the waiver to enable the company to launch the box this summer. Since TiVo also petitioned for a similar change, it might give the regulatory body the chance to broaden the scope of the waiver so as to cover CableCard-enabled devices in one fell swoop.
If all goes as Samsung hopes, its Smart Media Player will be among the few CableCard boxes sold at retail. The company has long been a partner and supplier to cable companies in the U.S., selling OEM boxes to the likes of Time Warner and Cablevision, among others. The fact this media player would also offer access to OTT services, like Netflix, Vudu and Hulu makes it a unique combination.
Eager to get the device to market, Samsung issued the following statement:
“If Samsung cannot provide Smart Media Players to retailers by the end of the summer, it risks losing the opportunity to obtain any shelf space in 2013, including during the all-important holiday season. This would delay consumer access to the Smart Media Player until early in 2014, an unnecessary wait that would be unfair to consumers and serve no purpose.”
Samsung filed its request on May 20, but it’s not clear what deadline the company had in mind for an FCC response.