Light Reading

CableLabs Blesses Evolution's CableCARD

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

CableLabs has qualified a multi-stream CableCARD from Evolution Broadband LLC that uses the Conax AS conditional access system and gives the Colorado-based cable tech firm an entrée to the budding tru2way market. (See CableLabs OKs Evolution CableCARD.)

Evolution is the fourth supplier to obtain qualification status. CableLabs has previously stamped CableCARDs from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), as well as a module from NDS Ltd. , which counts Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) as its marquee U.S. cable MSO customer.

The largest 10 "incumbent" MSOs have deployed more than 14.08 million "operator-supplied" set-tops with CableCARDs, according to the latest data released by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) . The vast majority of those are supplied by Moto and Cisco.

CableLabs's qualification of the Evolution security module could open up that competition among Tier 2 and Tier 3 operators, the target of Evolution's broader, integrated digital platform. (See Evolution Thinks Small .)

Under Evolution's OEM arrangement with the Norwegian security firm, a Conax SmartCard slides into Evolution's CableCARD sheath. The combination, adapted to support Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) system environments (more popular in the European cable theater) can then be inserted into a tru2way box or TV set with a CableCARD interface. (See First Look: Evolution's CableCARD and Evolution, Conax Sign Exclusive Deal.)

SmartCard in CableCARD Clothing

The security module complements Evolution's box strategy, which includes less complicated Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices that embed the Conax CAS via a subscriber identity module (SIM) derived from the larger SmartCard. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already awarded a three-year waiver for Evolution's standard-def DTAs; Evolution's presently seeking out the same for an HD version. (See Nagra, Evolution Seek DTA Waivers, FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs, and FCC Approves DTAs From Moto, Cisco, Thomson & Pace.)

Evolution also expects to use the newly qualified CableCARD in broadband-capable TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) boxes with dual CableCARD slots. Evolution is using the TiVo HD-DVR as one of the advanced boxes in its arsenal. (See Comporium Tests Positive for DTAs and TiVo Covers Its Cable Bases .)

Evolution has yet to say when it expects qualification to turn into deployments, but it has previously noted that it plans to pair the new CableCARD with a new line of tru2way boxes from KAON Media Co. Ltd. and other box suppliers.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.

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