Advanced Digital Broadcast has signed on the dotted line with CableLabs to receive the necessary licenses for the Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS), a new twist on removable conditional access that could eventually replace the more expensive, hardware-centric CableCARD.

The licenses will enable ADB to build retail consumer electronics gear - including set-tops - that employ DCAS security technology. LG Electronics and Samsung have also secured DCAS licenses.

The DCAS platform underway will feature a secure micro that will load the encryption and security keys. Phase II of the ASIC chip is set for completion by Q3 2007. The DCAS keying facility is slated to go online in the third quarter of 2006.

Last November, the U.S. cable industry pledged to roll out DCAS nationwide by July 1, 2008.

"Combining OCAP (OpenCable Application Platform, a CableLabs-specified middleware) and DCAS will allow ADB to quickly bring new and previously unimaginable products to North American cable operators," said ADB Americas Regional President Michael Hawkey.

In December, ADB signed a deal to acquire Vidiom Systems Corp., an OCAP specialist based in Broomfield, Colo.

Separately, CableLabs confirmed the qualification of a multi-stream CableCARD from Scientific Atlanta. That device, also known as the "M-Card," is designed to handle unidirectional services as well as interactive cable applications such as video-on-demand.

Multi-stream CableCARDs will become commercially available by mid-2006, said CableLabs, which developed an M-Card test environment with Digital Keystone Inc.