Feeds

Comcast makes up with Boxee after cable encryption spat

Cable TV + internet boxes sector keeps swelling

Boost IT visibility and business value

The proliferation of third-party aggregation devices to combine cable TV with internet content in the home is set to continue in the US following a landmark deal between Comcast and Boxee.

This is significant because Comcast is the largest US multi-system operator – with 22.5 million pay TV customers – while Boxee is the most prominent supplier of third-party devices that can access cable TV content directly – so long as it is unencrypted, as is the case for some local and basic channels.

Such boxes are sometimes referred to as Clear QAM devices, and have exploited the fact that US MSOs have been obliged to deliver some mandatory "must carry" basic channels in the clear so that they can be picked up without needing a set top box. But recently the US cable industry has been lobbying the FCC to change the rule so that they can encrypt QAM and shut down this whole bypass mechanism, which would lock out a large numbers of TVs. This also threatens this burgeoning business in IP-connected third-party devices that bring together basic cable and internet TV. Cable TV makers have wanted to cut down on this trend because it threatened their own OTT and hybrid strategies, and have also argued full encryption is needed to combat piracy, and facilitate remote service turn off to reduce support costs.

But Boxee has taken the fight to them, and has now reached a two-part agreement. The first part involves a temporary solution comprising hardware connected to the Boxee box via an Ethernet port, to decrypt the signals. This enables the MSOs to encrypt all content, while Boxee users can get access to it. But it is an untidy solution involving an extra device and more wires, so the second part of the agreement entails development in the longer term of software based decryption for incorporation in future Boxee devices. Although this agreement, subject to FCC approval, is just between Boxee and Comcast, it will set a precedent for the rest of the US cable industry and other makers of these IP-capable Clear QAM boxes.

Copyright © 2012, Faultline

Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.