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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.