DirecTV plans to ditch set-top boxes this Fall, begins Beta test

DirecTV hopes that, possibly by the end of this year, new technology will allow customers to receive all of their programming without the need for a set-top box.

The satellite TV provider has recently begun a very small Beta test of a new DirecTV Home Media Center and HR34 RVU(R view)-enabled server that attaches to home networks and presents a standard user-interface on compatible viewing devices. Basically, with this system, customers could access satellite channels and DVR recordings with any network-enabled video display in the home.

DirecTV plans to ditch set-top boxes this Fall, begins Beta test

“The RVU Alliance was founded by Broadcom, Cisco Systems, DirecTV, Samsung and Verizon Communications,” according to Todd Spangler, reporter for Multichannel News. “The RVU spec uses UPnP and DLNA technologies to let a gateway device — such as DirecTV’s Home Media Center — to deliver content to compliant client devices such as connected TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.”

The current Beta trial of the new DirectTV system is being conducted in only 150 households, however the company plans to begin a nation-wide rollout in the U.S. beginning this October.

“The DirecTV Home Media Center is going to simplify the way our customers watch television throughout their homes and give them access not only to their favorite content in HD and DVR functionality on each television, but to a consistent, feature-rich user interface, no matter what room they are in,” said DirecTV chief technology officer Romulo Pontual.

The RVU Alliance was first announced in 2009 with a great deal of publicity, but seems to have been immersed in quiet development since then. The reason for the low-profile could likely be that technology seeks to eliminate the need for TiVo and numerous other 3rd party devices that are currently widely used by satellite and TV providers. There are many companies that stand to lose a great deal of business once the RVU spec reaches mainstream use.

There are many details that are still left to emerge regarding the specifics on how new systems like DirecTV Home Media Center will work. With less than six months to go before launch, however, we’ll likely hear additional details quite soon.