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Tech trio to become 'alternate' CableCARD supplier

Sun, 03/14/2004 - 7:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

NDS Group has teamed with InteracTek Co. Ltd. and Nasco Co. Ltd. to create what they are calling an "alternate supplier" of CableCARD security modules for OpenCable networks in Korea and the United States.

Under OpenCable guidelines and the recently FCC-approved "Plug & Play" agreement, CableCARDs (formerly known as point-of-deployment modules) are the removable security element of digital hosts (i.e. set-tops and televisions) that authorize premium television programming and other content.

The alliance plans to bow its CableCARD within 12 months using NDS' VideoGuard conditional access system. Under the joint venture, InteracTek will supply its software engineering and design acumen, and Nasco will manufacture the devices in Korea and supply sales and marketing support both in Korea and the U.S. The companies said the final product should sell for less than $20 per unit.

"This year, Korean cable TV operators will start commercial deployment of OpenCable systems. NDS and our partners have created this alliance to introduce competitive technology and to accelerate the commercial deployment of OpenCable systems," said Sue Taylor, vice president and general manager, NDS Asia Pacific.

How quickly the trio can find success in the U.S. remains questionable, as the majority of U.S. digital cable systems already use conditional access technology from Motorola Broadband and Scientific-Atlanta. Motorola and S-A are also expected to be the primary suppliers of CableCARDs in the U.S., at least initially.

Still, technologies such as Sony 's Passage, which enables operators to deploy alternate conditional access platforms, could play a role in altering the current conditional access landscape. Charter Communications and Comcast Cable are among the first MSOs to test Passage in the field.

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