Cable Tech

Cablevision Makes its Security Deadline

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) says it has met a federal condition that the MSO incorporate a downloadable security system in all new set-tops by the end of 2010, a move that ensures that the operator won't be constrained by the Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)/Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) US set-top and security duopoly.

That date was one of many the MSO was on the hook to hit following the conditions applied to an integrated security waiver granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January 2009 that allowed Cablevision to continue using smartcard-based security while it developed and deployed the new downloadable platform. Missed milestones would have made Cablevision subject to fines totaling US$5,000 per day. (See Cablevision Scores Set-Top Waiver Extension .)

Cablevision declared its compliance in a Jan. 13 FCC filing.

Why this matters
Cablevision's successful deployment enters play as the FCC continues to pursue its "AllVid" initiative, which envisions cross-industry video gateways and adapters and an alternative to the clunky CableCARD as the method for separable security.

If the FCC turns this into a formal, proposed rulemaking, it may take another look at downloadable security and perhaps flirt with Cablevision's particular implementation, which uses the NDS Ltd. Key Ladder (KLAD) and the NDS VideoGuard conditional access system.

Likewise, sources say Cablevision is eager to push adoption of its soft security system to other MSOs, and is even considering spinning the effort into an independent entity that would handle technology licensing and other key operational tasks.

Cablevision may need other MSOs to jump on board to keep box costs down and to build out a broader ecosystem of devices that use the downloadable platform. Cablevision kicked things off with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC)-made boxes, but other suppliers are expected to join the mix. Cisco is Cablevision's old set-top supplier, but LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) was among the manufacturers that built beta boxes for Cablevision's KLAD project. (See Cablevision May Take Security for a Spin(off) .)

KLAD, designed by NDS to accommodate other vendors' security systems, has recently emerged as a candidate to become a Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) standard.

For more
For more about AllVid and Cablevision's path to downloadable set-top security, please check out the following stories:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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