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On the Download – Motorola’s Submission to the FCC

fcc-logo.jpgFollow FCC filings? Maybe you noticed a letter to Chairman Martin about Motorola’s new Downloadable MediaCipher (DM) security solution. If you’ve been tracking the CableCARD wars, the DM submission to the FCC is a pretty big deal. On the one hand there’s CableCARD technology, which satisfies the FCC’s call for separable security, but requires new set-tops and is costing cable companies a lot of money to implement. On the other hand there’s DCAS, which is still in the development/testing stages but which will ultimately be a lot cheaper and easier to deploy than CableCARD.

Motorola’s DM is meant to act as an interim solution between CableCARD and DCAS. (DM is scheduled to be available in early 2008.) It’s better than CableCARD not just because of cost, but also because it works with existing digital set-tops and (I assume) can be updated via a simple software download. The downside? DM only works in cable systems (and Verizon) that currently use Motorola’s MediaCipher CA technology. Many systems do, but there are also many that don’t, and this is the reason DCAS is still the ultimate answer to separable security.

Got questions? (You should.) Post them in the comments section and I’ll try to find the answers. Meantime, MultiChannel was the first to cover the news. Oh yeah, and the TiVo Community got a hold of it. In response to some of those comments, implementing DM would not affect the use of CableCARD-enabled TiVos. (No way is the FCC going to back away from making the cable networks open up to CE vendors) MSOs would still have to support CableCARDs, but with DM they wouldn’t have to deploy their own new hardware.

10 Responses

  1. I don’t see how this addresses the “vendor-independent” point of the original ruling… seems unlikely this will run on Scientific Atlanta boxes for example…

  2. It’s not vendor-independent, but it is a workable solution in many cable systems, unlike, say, the BBT submission. I heard one Moto exec make this analogy: Moto DM is a base hit. DCAS is still the homerun.

  3. How does your solution compare to Widevine’s downloadable content security, which they also say is a forerunner or even better solution than DCAS?

  4. I don’t know. But I’ll find out.

  5. […] 10th, 2007 · No Comments The last time I wrote about Downloadable MediaCipher (a precursor to DCAS), I got a question about how Motorola DM compares to Widevine’s downloadable […]

  6. Just a correction…Widevine’s solution is Multi-network — Cable, Telco, Satellite or InternetTV

    It is also Multi-platform and Multi Format…It is the Ultimate in consumer centric CAS/DRM.


  7. I guess larger point is “…It’s not vendor-independent, but it is a workable solution in many cable systems…”

    How is it workable? what problem has been solved?

    If you still need a Motorola STB how has that enabled other CE devices to be attached to the operators network and function?

    Over the last two and a half decades, the traditional Analog delivery and consumption of entertainment content has transitioned to the digital world.

    In the 80’s and 90’s, the solutions for protecting entertainment copyrights focused primarily on a strong relationship between the entire value chain and the subscriber. This emphasis occurred because both the delivery methods and the consuming devices were generally limited to a relatively small and finite number. Content protection first emerged in the form of Conditional Access Systems, which evolved in the 90’s as the value chain model began to dissolve in the face of competition from file based distribution of entertainment content, e.g., DVDs and VOD. At that time, the major CAS/DRM companies included such as: Intertrust, NDS, Nagra, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta, Microsoft, & Content Guard. Their delivery mechanisms were dominated by the cable and satellite distribution models. Also, many of these early CAS/DRM systems locked users to particular networks and consumer electronic devices.

    In the late 90’s and early 00’s the delivery and consumption of entertainment content began to change. The internet became a delivery mechanism and wireless networks improved. Additionally, the number of consumer electronic devices targeted at enabling the consumption of entertainment content exploded exponentially. Also, concepts like the connected home and mobility became the buzz. Users began demanding choice and flexibility in how they receive and consume entertainment content. Furthermore, regulatory bodies like the FCC mandated that copyright protection technologies be separable from the terminal device. The FCC goal was retail availability of consumer electronic devices that could connect to service provider networks to consume entertainment content.

    In 2006, “You” were named the Times Magazine person of the year as video production became democratized

    At least because of the above influencing factors, during 2007 entertainment content technologies and technologies that protect the copyrights of entertainment content will become user/device and content centric.

    This is where DM needs to focus if Motorola wants to address the Connected Home.

    Note: Widevine and Motorola have an partnership begining in 2004 that enables Motorola customers to use Widevine’s content protection solutions in their networks giving them seperable security today.

    Red Herring recently named Widevine the Switzerland of DRM…This is really what the FCC, Consumers and the CEA had in mind.

  8. […] upcoming July 1st deadline. Specific smaller operators have considerable motivation now to try out downloadable security (precursor technology to DCAS) given the extra time allowed by the FCC’s waivers. Potentially […]

  9. http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6556242.html

    Motorola Signs Reseller Deal With Widevine
    Will Sell Conditional Access, Digital Right Management Products Globally
    By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 4/30/2008 10:42:00 AM
    Motorola’s Home and Networks Mobility Division has signed a global reseller agreement with Widevine Technologies that will let Motorola sell, service and support Widevine’s downloadable conditional access and digital rights management products globally.

    Currently, Motorola and Widevine jointly support over fifty video service providers worldwide. The joint solution includes Motorola’s consumer devices, compression and infrastructure solutions for video delivery and Widevine’s Cypher conditional access technology, which enables telco, cable or other service providers to use a single content security solution for protecting content delivered to set-top boxes, DVRs and PCs.

    Privately held Widevine is backed by Cisco Systems, Charter Ventures, Constellation Ventures, Dai Nippon Printing Co., PaceSetter Capital Group, Phoenix Partners, Telus and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

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