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 Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
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
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
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/15/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed