CableLabs® Completes OpenCable™ Test Wave; Digital Security Modules Now Available
Success in Meeting FCC's Deadline
Louisville, Colorado, June 29, 2000—Cable Television Laboratories, Inc.'s (CableLabs®) OpenCable™ Review Board has verified the interoperability of digital removable security devices from Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta. It is anticipated that these devices, called point-of-deployment (POD) security modules, will be made available immediately to cable operators.
With the completion of this testing, CableLabs has finished its initial work on digital POD modules, enabling cable operators to meet the government imposed July 1, 2000 deadline for POD availability. The POD modules are a critical element in enabling manufacturers and retailers to engage in retail sale of interoperable navigation devices, such as set-top boxes and integrated digital television sets.
"The cable industry has achieved a historic milestone in facilitating a retail market for cable navigation devices," said Dr. Richard R. Green, CableLabs President and CEO. "The marketplace can now begin to work by providing the retail availability of advanced digital set tops configured for removable security modules," Green added.
The Review Board verified that the removable POD modules were able to display analog video and audio, digital video and audio, and were able to decrypt digital video and audio in both manufacturers� host devices.
The cable industry, through the CableLabs OpenCable™ project, began working on the next-generation set top in the fall of 1997. Later, the FCC acknowledged OpenCable as the most efficient vehicle by which to accomplish its regulatory objectives. OpenCable took on the technology mission of achieving interoperable, specification-based advanced digital video functionality allowing retail sale of set tops developed by multiple manufacturers.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directed the FCC to create rules that would allow consumers to obtain set tops and other equipment from commercial sources, such as retailers, manufacturers and other sources besides cable operators. FCC rules directed cable operators to have available separable removable security modules (i.e., PODs) by July 1, 2000.
The POD separable security modules will be provided directly by the cable operator to customers who request them. PODs enable a device to decode encrypted, or scrambled, content that crosses the POD-host interface. A host may be a set-top box or an integrated digital television receiver.
OpenCable specifications were largely completed by October 1999, with some alterations made earlier this year upon conclusion of discussions as requested by the consumer electronics manufacturing industry.
"All the specifications that a manufacturer needs to create an OpenCable, retail-ready set-top box have been available for some time," said Don Dulchinos, Vice President of Advanced Platforms and Services and head of the OpenCable initiative. Further, consumer electronics manufacturers have been inside CableLabs since last July with devices based on the specifications, Dulchinos noted.
Following is a list of the companies that have participated in interoperability trials with CableLabs to date. Headend equipment providers: DiviCom, Motorola, and Scientific-Atlanta. Host devices: LG Electronics, Microsoft/SCM Microsystems, Motorola, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Scientific-Atlanta, Sony Electronics, Thomson Consumer Electronics, and Zenith. POD Modules: Mindport, Motorola, Nagra, NDS, Scientific-Atlanta and SCM Microsystems.
Based upon the progress seen in these interoperability events, CableLabs anticipates that several set-top makers could achieve certification in the second half of this year. CableLabs also is hosting a developers conference later this summer, the third in a series, to proactively help accelerate progress by the manufacturing community.
"Through our work at CableLabs, and with a lot of hard work by the manufacturers, cable operators will have a supply of PODs available on July 1," Dulchinos added. Currently, five POD manufacturers are involved in the OpenCable interoperability tests.
CableLabs has established a Review Board for OpenCable with representation from among its member companies. The board has built upon the success that CableLabs has achieved over the course of the past four years in its CableLabs® Certified™ Cable Modem project.
About CableLabs: Cable Television Laboratories (www.cablelabs.com) was founded in 1988 by members of the cable television industry. A non-profit research and development consortium, CableLabs delivers innovations that enable cable operators to be the providers of choice in their markets. Cable operators from around the world are members. CableLabs maintains web sites at www.cablelabs.com; www.packetcable.com; www.cablemodem.com; www.cablenet.org, and www.opencable.com.
CableLabs® is a registered trademark of Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. Other CableLabs marks are listed at http://www.cablelabs.com/certqual/trademarks. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.