US CableLabs, the cable television industry’s technology development consortium, announced that it is working on hybrid cable boxes, which will receive both off-air digital broadcasts as well as tune in to digital cable. Such hybrid boxes would help solve a major problem for US cablers, who are faced with carriage bills from broadcasters. By combining the two signals into one single box the operators would evade paying those charges.
The interface specifications would enable devices to receive digital off-air television signals and would deliver these digital signals seamlessly through a cable set-top box. This technology would allow consumers to receive broadcast television signals as an integrated viewing experience. The concept combines over-the-air digital television transmission with television programming carried by the cable provider.
In Europe hybrid boxes are nothing new. In the UK BT Vision offers a combination of Freeview DTT with BT IPTV. In France CanalSat has set-top bioxes combining DTT and satellite reception.