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Nagravision Joins DTA Waiver Parade

Jeff Baumgartner
10/2/2009

Nagravision SA 's aspirations for the U.S. cable market could get a boost now that it's the latest vendor to get an Federal Communications Commission (FCC) waiver for integrated security.

The FCC blessed Nagra's Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) entries on Friday, letting the company sidestep a ban on integrated set-top security that went into effect more than two years ago. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

The Commission approved two Evolution Broadband LLC DTAs in June. Since then, it has encouraged other suppliers to seek out waivers for similar "limited functionality" set-tops and approved models from Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Pace Micro Technology , Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453). (See FCC Believes in Evolution-ary DTAs and DTA Waiver Mania.)

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is trying to gain a waiver on two devices, and Evolution has submitted several more models for FCC review, including one that can display hi-def video. (See Huawei Takes On US Set-Top Market and Evolution's Expanding DTA Universe .)

Among larger MSOs, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Mediacom Communications Corp. are using DTA channel zappers to support their respective analog reclamation strategies. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Nagravision, which has a U.S. division but is headquartered in Switzerland, filed its waiver request in July for the AC-N060PD2A-SC and the AC-N060PD2A-SIM. The former is outfitted with a SmartCard interface, while the other uses a SIM card, which functions like a SmartCard but is smaller. (See Nagra, Evolution Seek DTA Waivers.)

Nagravision, a developer of conditional access and video security systems, isn't a box maker per se. It's expected that the company will spec out its DTA designs to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Support for 'SimulCrypt'
In addition to discussing the integration ban, Nagravision bent the Commission's ear this week about "SimulCrypt," a platform popular in Europe that lets MSOs run multiple conditional access systems on the same network and the same program stream, eliminating the need for operators to simulcast everything.

The FCC's heard it before. In August, Ohio-based Massillon Cable TV Inc. called on the Commission to force Motorola and Cisco to support SimulCrypt. Massillon says Moto and Cisco gladly support it internationally, where they are trying to win new business, but are less willing to do so in the U.S., where they enjoy incumbent market positions. (See Cisco, Moto Called Out by Ohio MSO.)

Broader adoption of SimulCrypt by U.S. MSOs could benefit Nagravision by loosening Motorola and Cisco's grip on the market.

Nagravision also told the FCC that it thinks downloadable security may be an appropriate successor to the removable CableCARD, so long as the resulting platform allows for the participation of multiple conditional access providers and headend manufacturers. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently made a similar argument, suggesting that the FCC should embark on a new rulemaking effort that would result in the eventual replacement of the CableCARD with a technology that would do a better job spawning an open retail market for set-tops. (See Nagra Critical of Cablevision Security Plan and CEA Seeks CableCARD Review .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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