Light Reading

Comcast Lights Up DTA Encryption

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
1/26/2010
50%
50%

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has confirmed that it's activated encryption in Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices serving customers in Portland, Ore., and Seattle -- the first Comcast markets to take the step since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted waivers to a handful of the simple channel zappers last year.

DTAs in those markets had been delivering digital programming in the clear. However, the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) chips that power those devices are burned in with "privacy mode," a content protection system for video on demand (VoD); encryption for that mode can be activated via a firmware upgrade. (See Comcast's DTAs: Security Optional .)

MSO are allowed to take advantage of that option because of security waivers the FCC awarded last year, to DTAs from suppliers such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Pace plc , Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), Evolution Broadband LLC , and Nagravision SA . Short of such waivers, MSOs are banned from buying set-tops with integrated security under an FCC rule that took effect in July 2007. (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs, Nagravision Joins DTA Waiver Parade, and FCC Approves DTAs From Moto, Cisco, Thomson & Pace.)

Late in 2009, Comcast began notifying Portland and Seattle customers that it was activating DTA encryption.

Comcast's relying heavily on the $35 DTA devices for Project Cavalry, an analog reclamation initiative that's clearing spectrum for gobs of high-definition television channels and speedier Docsis 3.0 services. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Activating encryption in those DTAs should offer relief to programmers in Comcast's expanded basic tier that are concerned about digital piracy. Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) has been the most vocal about it, suggesting last summer that it might consider withholding programming delivered to DTAs in the absence of some degree of content security. (See Cable Circles the DTA Wagons .)

Although encryption will offer a layer of protection to channels being delivered to DTAs, Comcast still delivers its B1 basic programming tier (about 30 channels, depending on the market) in analog, and free of encryption. Comcast would require yet another FCC waiver to encrypt B1. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) obtained such a waiver last month for its New York systems. (See FCC Lets Cablevision Lock Up Its Basic TV Tier .)

'Cavalry' marches on
Comcast has remained aggressive with Project Cavalry in 2010, starting the "marination" process recently in two more markets: Minneapolis/St. Paul; and in Olathe, Independence, and other parts of Jackson County, Mo. In this preparatory phase, Comcast is installing digital boxes and DTAs during routine truck rolls before the markets go on the clock for the analog-to-digital channel migration. (See Comcast Seeds Digital Shift With Free Boxes.)

Comcast spokeswoman Alana Davis said Comcast has completed the all-digital Cavalry upgrade in four markets: Portland, Ore.; Seattle; the San Francisco Bay Area; and Augusta, Ga. The process is more than 75 percent complete in Comcast's Philadelphia region and in its Chattanooga, Tenn., system.

Other Comcast markets and regions where Project Cavalry is already underway include:

  • Atlanta
  • South Florida
  • Greater Boston region
  • Western New England
  • Greater Detroit region
  • Chicago
  • Portions of Maryland and Virginia
  • Michigan
  • Central Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Indianapolis


Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts told an investor conference last month that the MSO had deployed more than 4.5 million DTAs so far. It's expected that Comcast will require more than 25 million of the devices to complete the project.

To this point, all of the DTAs Comcast has deployed are capable of only displaying standard-definition video. However, Broadcom and Zoran Corp. (Nasdaq: ZRAN) have both developed chipsets for low-cost ($50 or less) DTA models that can render high-definition video.

The FCC has not granted a security waiver to any HD-DTA models yet. However, it has given CableOne the OK to use them in one small system in Tennessee. (See Evolution Guns for HD Box Waiver , Broadcom Breaks Out HD-DTA Chipset , Cable ONE Seeks $50 HD Box, and Cable ONE Snares HD Set-Top Waiver .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.