Latens is going into IBC in the midst of what the conditional access company sees as a transition in attitudes towards software-based CAS. In an interview with Broadband TV News, Alex Borland, director of business development, said that a shift two years ago, when operators began to ask more questions about software CAS, had moved to talk of possible deployments.
“This time last year we started seeing the real change in the industry from the green field point of view in Asia and parts of South America where operators say they would only consider a software CAS and not a smart card or an embedded hardware module to existing operators in Western Europe that have been running smart cards for sometime and now on a plan to go to software CAS”.
Borland said the Belfast-based company had received RFPs from existing operators that were using software-only solutions, at the same time as current suppliers were being questioned as to their software-based options.
To date there have been no major switches in conditional access systems reported – the last major change in Europe being the move by the Norwegian cableco GET to NDS in 2007 – but there are signs that operators are prepared to make changes as they rollout next generation set-tops to accompany an upgrade to a PVR or high definition set-top. Borland says this is the perfect time for operators to consider a switch in CAS.
“In DVB CAS you can Simulcrypt in one CAS alongside a second one, so that when you introduce new boxes over, three, four, five years you can introduce a second CAS and that’s how far ahead that operators are looking in their strategy.”
However it isn’t always plain sailing, particularly when a retrofit of older set-tops is required, alongside the release of security keys by an incumbent supplier.
“Some of the obstructions are technical of course, but some of them are very commercially driven, when an incumbent CAS vendor may resist releasing things like keys because it is in his commercial interests. Sometimes we’ve seen obstructions put up by CAS vendors that are purely commercial obstruction, but they use technical arguments to do that.” Borland admits that he might be persuaded to do the same were the position reversed.
An emerging trend has been traditional pay-TV operators looking at how they might introduce an over-the-top service as part of a broader offering. Like its software based counterparts Verimatrix and Widevine, Latens has had a PC product in place for a number of years, and is preparing to be able to support DRM capability down to a number of end devices.
Says Borland: “What we see if the ability to plug in various DRM standards so you can address the various devices in the market, making it possible to plug in the Apple smooth stream capability into your CAS facility, so we support the Apple DRM standard. So our customers that are traditional pay TV operators can offer service into integrated television sets, set-top boxes, along with their same service offerings out into other devices”.