Feeds

Comcast makes up with Boxee after cable encryption spat

Cable TV + internet boxes sector keeps swelling

New hybrid storage solutions

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.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.