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
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Evolving Role of Hybrid Video for Competitive Success

7|4|14   |   4:09   |   (0) comments


At Huawei's Global Analysts Summit in Shenzhen, China, Steven C. Hawley from TV Strategies speaks to us about the evolving role of hybrid video for competitive success.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How CSPs Leverage Big Data in the Digital Economy

7|4|14   |   4:48   |   (2) comments


Justin van der Lande from Analysys Mason shares with us his views on how telecom operators can leverage customer asset monetization with big data. His discusses the current status of big data applications and the challenges and opportunities for telecom operators in the digital economy era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerator for Digital Business Future Oriented BSS

7|4|14   |   3:08   |   (0) comments


Mobile and internet are becoming intertwined; IT and CT are integrating; and leading CSPs have begun to transform to information service and entertainment providers. How should the BSS system evolve to enable this transformation? Karl Whitelock, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, shares his views.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Orange Tunisia Discusses Multi-Band Antenna With EasyRET Solution

7|4|14   |   2:45   |   (0) comments


As new site acquisition becomes more difficult, Orange Tunisia has requested multi-band antenna to support UMTS and LTE innovation. Some things considered include reducing the cost of antenna maintenance and having high reliability antenna and EasyRET solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Telefonica Spain Considers Antenna Selection for LTE Network Deployment

7|4|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Tony Conlan, Global CTO of RAN, Telefonica, shares his opinion on antennas in LTE network deployment: Tower space is the premier requirement on antennas; reliability is important to reduce OPEX; and EasyRET solution will be helpful for antenna maintenance.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
dtac Thailand: Multi-band Antenna & Capacity Solution for a Better MBB Experience

7|3|14   |   3:45   |   (0) comments


With the development of LTE, tower space and load are limited for new antenna, but users' capacity requirements are growing fast. To provide a better MBB experience, Panya Vechbanyongratana from dtac Thailand shared his experiences and antenna requirements.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Panel: Network of the Future

7|2|14   |   1:00:57   |   (0) comments


Full-length video of the ATIS Panel Discussion: 'How Far Away Is the Network of the Future & What Does It Look Like?' from the Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago.
LRTV Custom TV
Redknee Supports BH Telecom With Redknee Unified

7|2|14   |   6.14   |   (0) comments


Lucas Skoczkowski, CEO of Redknee, and Amir Orucevic, Director BH Mobile, discuss how the benefits of the Redknee Unified suite of products provide BH Telecom with innovation and leadership in the market, with the flexibility to launch services faster to the market, provide new and compelling promotions and pricing models, and combine services in order to drive ...
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
Infographics
Allot's latest MobileTrends Charging Report shows that value-based pricing plans are up from 35% in 2011 to 85% in 2014.
Hot Topics
Microsoft to Axe 12,500 Ex-Nokia Employees
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 7/17/2014
GM: 10 Car Models on Road With AT&T's LTE
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/18/2014
Have IBM & Apple Partnered Their Way to Cloud Leadership?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 7/18/2014
Analytics, Security Key to Apple, IBM Tie-Up
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/16/2014
Will Santa Fe Strategy Be a Message to Munis?
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 7/18/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed