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Comcast Makes CE-Friendly Moves

Michael Harris
Michael Harris

Heading into the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this weekend, Comcast, America's largest cable operator, is working hard to reassure CE players that MSOs are serious about embracing an increasingly open model for video CPE. With a bumpy initial roll-out of OpenCable and CableCARD technology, skepticism among CE players toward cable is not unfounded. However, it behooves CE players to understand MSOs are finally serious about making the move to an open model, now that a viable technical solution has emerged: downloadable conditional access (DCAS). For DCAS details, see the feature in this month's CDN at NCTA Unveils Downloadable Conditional Access Plan. To the point, LG Electronics, Comcast and Nagravision are jointly demonstrating DCAS module technology at CES for the first time. The demo follows on the heels of LG's recent DCAS agreement with CableLabs. In a statement, Dave Fellows, executive vice president and CTO of Comcast, said 'This is another example of Comcast's commitment to retail availability of two-way plug and play digital cable devices." The news release is at http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060106/cgf012.html?.v=38 Separately, Comcast announced a set-top deal this week with CE giant Panasonic, a good faith gesture to show the MSO's willingness to buy outside it's traditional supplier base of Motorola, S-A and Pace. Comcast will buy 250,000 set-tops from Panasonic, with the option to raise that order to up to a million units. The boxes, which include 250 GB digital video recorders (DVRs), will also run Panasonic's OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) middleware. In addition, these boxes will have both MPEG-2 and H.264 (MPEG-4) decoder capabilities.

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