OpenCable

From Academic Kids

OpenCable is a set of specifications created by CableLabs to "Define the next-generation of advanced digital cable-ready devices". OpenCable uses ATSC as the underlying standard for the video, but also adds a requirement for a Java interpreter and an encryption system employing Smartcards. The goal is to create a common standard for digital cable television within United States, hence promoting competition among licensed device manufacturers.

Digital restrictions management

DRM is implemented using both Java and a pluggable decryption card. This would work much like DirectTV's encryption system. When a crack of the current encryption system in use becomes widespread a new card can be sent out to consumers and a new encryption system employed. Putting portions of the restrictions management in the unsafe Java interpreter allows greater flexibility in billing.

Increased competition

In the current market a cable operator is locked into either Motorola or Scientific Atlanta for 10–20 years when they make the capital investment to use either system for their digital cable operations. With OpenCable a consumer can use a MPEG-2 decoder from either company and the cable company can switch between the system at only the cost of the decryption card for each consumer and the backend costs. The decryption cards will probably license for $10 to $20, much less than the $50 for a simple decoder or $500 for a full featured PVR.

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