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New DTA Will Extend Cable TV to Retail Devices

Broadcom Corp. has introduced a new chipset for digital transport adapters (DTAs) that will help some of the nation's largest cable operators deliver their basic video tiers in encrypted form to Boxee boxes, smart TVs and other types of IP-connected video devices that are purchased at retail. Broadcom's fifth-generation DTA chip, the BCM7576, supports HD video and an IP mini server that can convert encrypted QAM video channels into protected IP streams. Following that conversion, this new class of E-DTA can then shuttle those IP video streams for viewing on consumer electronic devices via home network connections that utilize Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) technology with DTCP-IP content protection. (See Broadcom E-DTA SoC Targets IP Video and CableLabs, CEA Agree on DTCP-IP.) The IP mini server piece is a critical addition following a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote last fall that lifted a ban that had prevented cable operators from encrypting their basic service tiers in all-digital systems. Cable pushed hard to get the ban lifted, claiming that it would help operators cut down on service theft and enable them to activate and deactivate video services remotely and reduce truck roll costs. To help get the vote, the largest six incumbent cable operators agreed to provide the technology necessary to let IP-based retail devices, such as the Boxee box, support basic TV tiers without the need for a CableCARD. It's expected that most of those operators will support that condition by supplying free DTAs with home-networking capability. Broadcom's new chipset will power a new class of E-DTAs that are expected to help those operators meet that FCC condition. In such deployment scenarios, the E-DTA will decrypt the basic TV signals and pass them along to the third-party retail device. CE companies will also have the option to license and embed that technology into their retail video streaming devices. Broadcom's newest chipset uses a Full-Band Capture digital tuner, meaning it can grab channels from anywhere on cable's spectrum up to 1GHz, and do away with multiple tuners. The Full Band Capture feature will also enable the new DTAs to support fast channel changes and up to four concurrent service streams. This means the E-DTA can deliver content to a TV set while also distributing content to as many as three more retail devices that are hanging off the home network. Broadcom says the BCM7576 is currently sampling and is being demonstrated at this week's CableLabs Winter Conference in Orlando, Fla. Broadcom has not identified any OEM partners for the new chipset, but candidates include Pace plc, Motorola Mobility LLC, Technicolor SA and Evolution Digital LLC, among others. Broadcom Senior Product Group Manager Brett Tischler wouldn't speculate on when set-top vendors might introduce E-DTA products, but noted that customers are already starting to build them. Given that products usually lag silicon by at least six months, it's possible that this new class of E-DTAs could appear late this year or during the first half of 2014. Why this matters
The emergence of the E-DTA will give cable operators an important tool to help them support the revised basic TV encryption rules. The new class of device will also give MSOs a way to bridge basic TV services to retail video devices without leaving that content unencrypted, a decision that will keep programmers happy. The E-DTA's retail support implications could give the FCC yet another reason not to pursue AllVid, a possible successor to the CableCARD that would be applied to cable operators, telcos and satellite TV operators. (See NCTA to FCC: Call Off 'AllVid'.) For more
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 3/11/2013 | 5:12:15 PM
re: New DTA Will Extend Cable TV to Retail Devices Broadcom also claims the performance of the CPU doubles the app performance of the previous generation DTA products, and supports more advanced user interfaces.-á -áBroadcom is not talking about chip costs,-á and what sort of premium will be includes in a new generation platform that includes the -áIP mini server and the Ethernet port.-á The initial wave of HD-DTAs were expected to sell for sub-$50 in volume. JB
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