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CableLabs, CEA Agree on DTCP-IP

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Although the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the cable industry have a history of banging heads, they appear to be on the same page after CableLabs approved DTCP-IP to protect video and other digital content as it traverses IP-based home networks.

"DTCP-IP protects consumers' customary rights to record broadcast and subscription programming, said CEA vice president of communications Jason Oxman, in a prepared statement. "It is CEA's belief that any proven content protection technology should not be denied use on products attached to cable systems on the basis of the transport interface it is protecting."

On Thursday, CableLabs and the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator LLC (DTLA) announced the approval of DTCP-IP for unidirectional and bi-directional digital cable products. The protection and encryption of content -- which could include video-on-demand and high-definition television fare -- would apply to supporting devices that hang off the cable network, including digital televisions, set-tops, PCs, and handheld media players. (See CableLabs Okays DTCP-IP.)

CableLabs' approval already had some solid backing from the consumer electronics industry, as the DTLA, also known as "5C," was formed in 1998 by Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (NYSE: MC; Tokyo: 6752) (Panasonic), Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), and Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502).

The content/studio industry was also represented, as CableLabs made the announcement in cooperation with Paramount Pictures Corp., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Technical Operations.

Getting all three industries on board could prevent government-mandated regulations.

The DTLA said it has withdrawn a petition at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , which, if successful, could have forced CableLabs to adopt DTCP-IP. CableLabs had previously approved DTCP for protection of content over the IEEE 1394 "Firewire" interface.

CableLabs' adoption of DTCP-IP should have little to no effect on home networks based on the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , an IP-based platform that supports speeds up to 270 Mbit/s. MSOs -- and telcos like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) -- are using MOCA to support multi-room digital video recorders and other bandwidth-intensive applications that ride on in-home coax wires.

"The MOCA network is agnostic to all IP-based content protection and will pass the packets as encrypted so that only devices that are designed and authorized to receive and decrypt will be able to do so," said MOCA president Charles Cerino, in an emailed statement.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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