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Meanwhile Back at the Ranch : What about CableCARDs?

backattheranch.pngWith all the talk about DCAS and secure download for cable and IPTV, let’s not forget CableCARDsUntil downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) and the IPTV Interoperability Forum’s (IIF) secure download become available for wide deployment, CableCARD and the ATIS (the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) point of deployment (APOD) module (specs for which are currently near finalization) will provide present and near-term security solutions for both HFC cable and IPTV networks. It is very unlikely that CableCARDs will completely be displaced in the next two years by any downloadable solution and, even longer term, may be a coexisting technology.Information from the NCTA that was disclosed in a recent FCC filing indicated the 10 largest U.S. cable operators had deployed more than 300,000 CableCARD units as of December 2007. The filing also reported that the NCTA has said that these U.S. MSOs have deployed more than 2.25 million CableCARD-capable set-tops since July 7, 2007, meaning for every CableCARD consumers have requested, cable operators have shipped over seven CableCARD-capable set-tops. (Need a refresher on CableCARDs? Visit the OpenCable site for more information.)One of the well-known issues that CableCARDs present however is that they are a more expensive solution compared to previous”embedded” security implementations. They will also likely remain more expensive than any downloadable solution even in the long run. Over time, however, and with increased volume, it is possible that CableCard prices may decrease. If so, this would likely have the effect of extending the length of the CableCard (and APOD) era and prolong their role as coexisting security technologies.Since consumer demand for CableCARDs has been relatively weak so far, the main effect of CableCARDs has been extra equipment expense for operators. Even so, as long as regulations are in place requiring the separation of security features from navigation features in receiving devices, CableCARDs will be around and APODs will likely become the solution du jour for the time being.

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