DCAS Update

Alert! Alert! There's been a PolyCipher LLC sighting!

Well, sort of.

Considering that PolyCipher, the clandestine downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) joint venture of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), and Cox Communications Inc. , has been on radio silence seemingly since the Carter administration, I was taken aback a bit when EmbedICs Inc. sent us a news release that officially names the Columbia, Md.-based company as a contributor to the PolyCipher security architecture. (See EmbedICs, PolyCipher Team.)

The release is short on details, but notes that EmbedICs has been tapped to help specify the system level requirements and messaging protocol, as well as the production and infrastructure considered key to the deployment of DCAS.

The release also quotes PolyCipher CEO Tom Lookabaugh, who, in a rare public appearance at The Cable Show last year, told us that the DCAS implementation could reach the trial phase sometime this year. (See PolyCipher Targets '08 Trials .)

"The EmbedICs team," Lookabaugh said in the release, "provided us with a broad range of in-depth secure system development knowledge and practical experience to help us make critical design decisions."

But the relative newness of this partnership news is somewhat suspect. Sources familiar with the project have indicated that the PolyCipher-EmbedICs connection has existed for much more than a year. So the release just cements this well-worn fact, but also indicates that this MSO-backed DCAS project may be moving forward after all, as it's in almost everyone's best interest to shift away from the CableCARD and toward the purported more elegant and less expensive era of downloadable conditional access.

Although PolyCipher has been quiet for some time, an approved press release may indicate that there's some bigger news afoot about the project. We've reached out to PolyCipher to see if we can obtain an official update of their progress. We'll keep you posted.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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