Light Reading
MSO confirms that channel zappers serving customers in Portland and Seattle are its first to have content protection activated

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
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Razorsight Expert's Advice on Real-Time Analytics

11|27|14   |   1:43   |   (0) comments


Razorsight's powerful cloud-based Predictive Analytics solutions are used by the world's leading communications and media brands to drive smarter decisions, enable faster actions and optimize outcomes. Get expert advice.
LRTV Interviews
From 4G to 5G: Alcatel-Lucent's Dave Geary

11|25|14   |   09:09   |   (1) comment


Dave Geary, President of Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, talks about the evolution of the 4G market, small cells, partnerships, 5G and the IoT.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Secure Telefonica Network With Huawei's High-End Firewall

11|24|14   |   4:37   |   (0) comments


Andrew Davies, IP architect of the Telefonica, a leading digital communications company, discusses the Huawei security gateway solution and putting the solution into the testbed.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners with Spirent to Verify CE12816's 10GE Port & TRILL Networking Capabilities

11|24|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Spirent Communications is the world's leading supplier for telecom testing appliances and solutions. Spirent has been in a close partnership with Huawei for a long time.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Airlines & Its ICT Transformation

11|24|14   |   2:07   |   (0) comments


In this video, Saudi Airlines discusses its network problems and how Huawei's Agile Network is its all-in-one solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Switch Benefiting Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital

11|24|14   |   2:40   |   (0) comments


Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital speaks about how Huawei's Agile Switch has improved the medical service's network infrastructure.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FanPlay & Huawei Build a Wireless Agile Smart Stadium

11|24|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


FanPlay is a cloud-based white label service, which is effectively a football fan engagement platform underpinned by mobile payment technology.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building an Agile Stadium

11|24|14   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Stadiums may be thousands of tons of concrete and steel, but they now need to be agile. Being at the stadium may not be as alluring as it once was. Sports franchises and stadium operators discuss how to get fans back.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Helps ChinaCache Tackle Challenges in the Internet Industry

11|24|14   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


ChinaCache is China's largest content distribution network supplier. Huawei's CE12800 has provided ChinaCache with very strong support in its establishment of an infrastructure network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Cefinity on Managed Security Services & Next-Generation Firewall

11|24|14   |   7:05   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a cloud management service provider in Southeast Asia. Ivan Zhang, CEO of the company, discusses the implementation of security service management in the cloud era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Gateway in the Eyes of Cefinity

11|24|14   |   2:11   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a managed service provider for enterprise networks. The company currently uses Huawei's AR series routers for the most complete range of functions. CEO Ivan Zhang speaks about the advantages of the AR series routers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
CTO of Bus-Online Talks About Huawei's Agile Gateway

11|24|14   |   2:53   |   (0) comments


Bus-Online covers around 100 million users everyday. In addition to providing mobile TV, and advertising services to the public, Bus-Online has also entered the field of mobile Internet.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Net Neutrality Even Mark Cuban Could Love
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/26/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Why 5G Is a Different Beast
Robert Clark, 11/26/2014
Eurobites: Net Neutrality Battle Looms
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 11/27/2014
New Juniper CEO Can Be Thankful for $14.5M
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed