Light Reading
Joint venture collapse suggests Comcast, Cox, and Time Warner aren't close to a downloadable system that replaces CableCARDs

MSOs Closing PolyCipher Headquarters

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
6/5/2009
50%
50%

The MSOs backing the PolyCipher LLC downloadable conditional access (DCAS) joint venture have opted to shut down the unit's downtown Denver office at the end of this month and assume full control of the JV, or what's left of it, Cable Digital News has learned.

Industry sources familiar with the situation say PolyCipher is down to three full-time employees -- CEO Tom Lookabaugh, VP of business development Jim Esserman, and VP of operations Shannon Johnson. All three are expected to depart the organization by month's end, leaving PolyCipher as a completely distributed operation run by its trio of MSO bosses. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) each have 40 percent stakes in PolyCipher; Cox Communications Inc. owns the remaining 20 percent.

Those MSOs originally created PolyCipher to develop a DCAS that, at least in theory, would be more elegant and less expensive than CableCARD modules and interfaces, which most U.S. MSOs use today to separate set-top security and adhere to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate that took effect in July 2007. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

That PolyCipher's operation will no longer be run by a dedicated staff is not a huge surprise. Word leaked out last year that PolyCipher had handed the implementation of the DCAS to Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and NDS Ltd. , although they have yet to produce any commercial DCAS products for the JV. (See Cisco, Moto Take Control of DCAS . NDS, however, has created a downloadable security system for Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which isn't part of PolyCipher. (See Cablevision Seeks Extended Security Waiver and Cablevision Scores Set-Top Waiver Extension .)

CableLabs is expected to maintain its role with the DCAS, which includes the distribution of licenses.

Although there's no word that the DCAS effort might be scuttled, another dose of doubt was heaped on the project's near-term prospects in January when TWC EVP of technology policy and product management Kevin Leddy lamented during a panel on the topic of tru2way at the Consumer Electronics Show that the "economics of downloadable security are challenging" while CableCARD costs continue to slide downward. (See DCAS Can Wait .)

During a more optimistic moment in mid-2007, PolyCipher had indicated that field trials could begin by 2008. (See PolyCipher Targets '08 Trials .)

PolyCipher officials and those from its MSO partners were not available for immediate comment Friday, but industry sources say the implementation components of the DCAS project remain in the hands of the vendors, and the decision to get rid of the Mile High City office was partly driven by the desire to scale back spending.

"The scope of [PolyCipher] is quite diminished," said a person familiar with the move, noting that the MSOs "don't need office space in downtown Denver for what they are trying to accomplish."

The three firms have already spent a king's ransom on the PolyCipher project. No recent figures are publicly available, but an FCC document filed in 2006 revealed that they had already invested more than $30 million on the project.

With the Denver office going away and the remaining dedicated employees set to depart, PolyCipher, sources say, will revert to its initial configuration and mode of operations, meaning it will be run by a part-time staff and contractors.

As for the future of a PolyCipher DCAS, there's been no public declaration as to whether it will ever reach deployment, which is probably welcome news for Motorola and Cisco, which are set to benefit the most if the U.S. cable industry continues to largely rely on CableCARDs.

Industry observers also point out that the PolyCipher effort came about during a time in which the FCC's attitude toward the cable industry, and the major MSOs in particular, was considered hostile.

The FCC, however, has previously acknowledged that an "open" downloadable security system developed by Beyond Broadband Technology LLC (BBT) lives up to the spirit of the set-top security ban. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) , however, has generally been opposed to any separable security effort that's not centered on the CableCARD. (See Cable Group Faces DCAS Debate.)

But lately, the Commission has been a bit more lenient with its waivers, even approving Cable ONE Inc. 's request to deploy a hi-def box with integrated security. So there's some hope in cable circles that the DCAS developed by the original PolyCipher team may still see the light of day if that trend continues. (See Evolution Guns for HD Box Waiver and Cable ONE Snares HD Set-Top Waiver .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies: Competing in the Three-Screen World, a one-day conference that will take a comprehensive look at the cable industry's attempts to generate revenues and fend off its rivals by deploying next-generation video technologies. To be staged in Atlanta, June 25, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.


(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
Flash Poll
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
Rogers, Shaw Take Aim at Netflix
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/26/2014
Utilities to Pump $11.2B Into Smart Grid – Study
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 8/26/2014
Verizon Launches QR Code Security Solution
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/26/2014
Nokia's Maps Land on Samsung Devices
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/29/2014
Verizon to Launch HD VoLTE in 'Coming Weeks'
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/26/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed