Welcome the VueKey, a removable security device that aims to comply with the FCC's ban on integrated set-top security

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

October 14, 2008

3 Min Read

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) said its IP-Based Separable Security Incubator (ISSI) has validated the VueKey, a CableCARD-like device that looks to conform with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ban on set-top boxes with integrated security. (See ATIS OKs CableCARD Alternative and Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

ATIS describes VueKey as an IP-based enhancement to the CableCARD, the removable security device that most U.S. cable operators are using these days to authorize service to new digital set-tops and some digital televisions. (See CableCARD Update V.) ATIS says VueKey can work with any network technology.

The organization validated VueKey following a recent interoperability test conducted by ISSI members Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and CCAD LLC, a joint venture that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Motorola formed in March 2005.

In addition to a set-top commitment, the original terms of the CCAD venture called for the two companies to develop and license current and future conditional access technologies, including downloadable conditional access (CA) systems, based on Motorola's MediaCipher platform.

ATIS was not available for additional comment by today's deadline, but its announcement did note that VueKey uses the CableCARD design, so "the time and cost for adaptation will be minimal for vendors creating the components that will deliver IPTV." In addition to adhering to the FCC mandate, VueKey is also compatible with the existing unidirectional CableCARD standard, ATIS claims.

One of the potential early beneficiaries of VueKey will be Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which uses a hybrid IP/QAM video platform. The telco, which is also an ISSI member, received a temporary set-top waiver in July after pledging to go all digital by February 2009. (See Verizon & Others Get Their Waivers.)

Considering there are several cable and telco companies linked to the development of the VueKey specs, the project appears to be a step toward an "all-provider" security solution for video service providers, a concept that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and, more recently, Verizon have endorsed.

Verizon has already said its FiOS TV platform is incompatible with tru2way , the open platform for interactive digital set-tops and televisions that use a common middleware spec and removable multistream CableCARDs. (See Verizon Stokes a Tru2way Stalemate , NCTA Counters Verizon's Tru2way Claims , and Verizon: No Way on tru2way .)

The cable industry could be interested in a security platform like VueKey as MSOs look to complement their traditional MPEG-based video delivery systems with TV services that use IP transport. (See TI Flexes Docsis 3.0 Muscle .)

ISSI is already working with the ATIS IPTV Interoperability Forum on further standardization of VueKey, including a "common trust hierarchy" between VueKey and IPTV hosts. ATIS also expects an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard to emerge from the VueKey specification work.

Other ISSI members include Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), CableLabs , Hitachi Telecom (USA) Inc. , NDS Ltd. , LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , MobileComm USA Inc., Verimatrix Inc. , Widevine Technologies Inc. , Nagravision SA , and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE).

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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