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 Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Rick Talbot, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:12   |   (0) comments


At the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Rick Talbot shared his positive feedback about the holistic and open approach that Huawei adopts for SDN and NFV. He also found the open sharing at the event valuable as it features different perspectives from Huawei experts, telecom operators, industry analysts as well as security experts.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With David Snow, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   2:24   |   (0) comments


David Snow talked about his understanding of Huawei and its SoftCOM strategy at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that Huawei's wide approach combining IT and CT expertise, introducing big data and analytics into solutions and contributing to the OpenStack community particularly resonate with him and make the company stand out in the industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

10|31|14   |   3:13   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro commented on Huawei's data center capabilities and NFV solutions at the NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, saying that in addition to covering all three key domains of compute, storage and networking, the company also emphasizes the importance of management capabilities and professional services, which are essential in making NFV a reality.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Michael Howard, Co-founder & Principal Analyst, Infonetics Research

10|31|14   |   5:25   |   (0) comments


Michael Howard talked about SDN, NFV, and OpenStack adoption at Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014. Particularly, he pointed out that Virtual Enterprise CPE is the top NFV use case that operators plan to invest in over 2014 and 2015 to deliver new enterprise services through virtualized functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Jerry Caron, Senior Vice President, Current Analysis

10|31|14   |   3:11   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014, Jerry Caron from Current Analysis said that orchestration and management are key to realizing SDN and NFV for global carriers, and the approach that Huawei is taking, with its FusionSphere Cloud OS at the core, is in the right direction to address the challenges.
LRTV Documentaries
Broadband Battles

10|31|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


This year's Broadband World Forum featured a number of show floor battles focused on access gear, components and coffee.
Jonestown
Mobile Backhaul: Going to the Dark Side?

10|30|14   |   2:26   |   (1) comment


Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan shares his view on a dark trend that bubbled up at Light Reading's annual backhaul conference in NYC.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed