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July 11, 2006
So much for ending the cable industry's long-running set-top box duopoly. In a sign that Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta will continue to dominate the cable set-top business for years to come despite the FCC's best efforts, CableLabs has approved a multi-stream CableCARD from Motorola, adding it to one already approved from Scientific-Atlanta.
Dubbed "M-Cards" for short, multi-stream CableCARDs are removable security modules designed for OpenCable digital set-tops and cable-ready digital TV sets that can be sold at retail. Unlike the currently deployed basic CableCARDs, which can support only one-way digital cable services, M-Cards are next-generation devices designed to support such more advancd, two-way digital services as video-on-demand (VOD), picture-in-picture and interactive TV.
With the Motorola M-Card approval, CableLabs has now qualified two-way security modules from the industry's two main set-top box makers and largst conditional access system suppliers. So, even if consumers somehow manage to start buying cable set-tops and digital sets from other consumer electronics manufacturers, they will still need conditional access cards from Motorola and S-A to make their equipment work on their cable systems.
CableLabs says it expects major MSOs to start offering M-Cards to their subscribers within the next few months. Working with Digital Keystone Inc., the industry's R&D consortium has developed a tool for testing the M-Card interface on TV sets and set-tops.
— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
Alan Breznick is a business editor and research analyst who has tracked the cable, broadband and video markets like an over-bred bloodhound for more than 20 years.
As a senior analyst at Light Reading's research arm, Heavy Reading, for six years, Alan authored numerous reports, columns, white papers and case studies, moderated dozens of webinars, and organized and hosted more than 15 -- count 'em --regional conferences on cable, broadband and IPTV technology topics. And all this while maintaining a summer job as an ostrich wrangler.
Before that, he was the founding editor of Light Reading Cable, transforming a monthly newsletter into a daily website. Prior to joining Light Reading, Alan was a broadband analyst for Kinetic Strategies and a contributing analyst for One Touch Intelligence.
He is based in the Toronto area, though is New York born and bred. Just ask, and he will take you on a power-walking tour of Manhattan, pointing out the tourist hotspots and the places that make up his personal timeline: The bench where he smoked his first pipe; the alley where he won his first fist fight. That kind of thing.
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