Monday, August 18, 2014

Moving Past CableCARD

Recent news has made it clear that it’s only a matter of time until CableCARD technology meets its ultimate demise. It’s an outdated technology that simply has not kept up with the times and is actually hindering the natural progression of the industry, which is increasingly leaning towards mobile.

While there was reason for CableCARD implementation in the first place, the industry’s technology has advanced and most MSOs are ready to move on. Security was one of the primary reasons CableCARD was introduced and there are currently a plethora of more effective offerings available. Downloadable conditional access solutions, for example, eliminate the need for CableCARDs while maintaining condition access (CA) independence and have been deployed for many years.

Two available solutions that utilize downloadable conditional access strategies are OMS and XCAS. Check out their respective merits below.

Open Media Security (OMS) – Already deployed in North America since 2010, OMS can support a variety of CA systems, however they must conform to the OMS Key Ladder. A key benefit of OMS is that it allows for multiple companies to provide solutions and maintains interoperability between CA and the STB. OMS is already proven an effective alternative to CableCARD.

Exchangeable Conditional Access Solution (XCAS) – Developed in Korea and deployed internationally by many service providers, CA systems and STB manufacturers, XCAS uses KLAD
technology and offers more flexibility than the OMS as well as some additional security, though            at the cost of some added complexity.

There are additional CA strategies that do not offer the benefit of being downloadable. One strategy involves Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs). DTAs have recently seen improvements to allow some interactivity but they are still much simpler and less powerful than STBs. DTAs are currently prohibited under the FCC’s Integration Ban but an active petition is seeking to change this.

There are many alternatives at the ready to be widely adopted once CableCARD requirements are officially removed, which is likely to happen in September when the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Reauthorization Act of 2014, also known as STELA, goes before the Senate. The bottom line is that it’s time for CableCARD to go and for widespread adoption of other, more effective strategies, like OMS and XCAS, to take place.

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