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Irdeto Keys on Cable IPTV

Jeff Baumgartner

12:25 PM -- Although it's sure to have plenty of company, Irdeto Access B.V. thinks it has the security question answered as U.S. cable operators flesh out how they are going to deliver premium video content via IP to PCs, and eventually to broadband-fed set-tops and to other devices hanging off the home network.

Irdeto, which views cable's recent Web TV awakening as an opportunity to break into the U.S. cable market in a big way, is marching in with a "unified protection scheme" that combines the company's digital rights management and conditional access (CA) technology with other elements brought in through the acquisitions of Cloakware Corp. and Entriq Inc. (See Irdeto Targets Cable Video.)

Cloakware provides a software-based platform that hides the encryption keys of the underlying content protection or CA system, while Entriq adds in content management and distribution mechanisms. (See Cloakware Reveals DTA Security Plan.)

Jan Steenkamp, a founding member of Irdeto who is heading up the company's efforts for North America, expects to see cable's IP video strategy go through distinct phases. The first one, of course, involves bringing premium fare to the PC, an effort well underway at MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). (See Cable Web TV: Results May Vary and Cable-Led Web TV Deals Still Forming.)

"We really see that as a short-term sprint," Steenkamp says of cable's Web TV ambitions. MSOs "are getting to the RFP [request for proposal] level now."

After that, Steenkamp expects MSOs to seek out ways to deliver IP video to hybrid set-tops/gateways outfitted with high-speed Internet connections, and then propagate that content to other set-tops and devices on the home network.

Eventually, cable ops will want to mobilize that content, too, as their wireless strategies take hold. In all these phases, networks and studios will insist that cable ops keep their content well protected.

But Irdeto faces a steep challenge -- striking deals in the midst of the Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) / Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CA duopoly. Those companies already protect most of U.S. cable's QAM-based digital video content, and it's very likely they'll come up with products that address cable's upcoming IPTV security requirements.

"We don’t see that as a hindrance," Steenkamp says of cable's CA legacy, holding that Irdeto's scheme can easily live alongside it.

But Motorola and Cisco won't be the only ones attacking these new business opportunities. Others throwing their hats in will likely include Widevine Technologies Inc. , Conax AS , Nagravision SA , NDS Ltd. , and SecureMedia Inc. , to name but a few.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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