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New spec for CI Plus modules embraces VoD, DVR and stronger security

We’ve read at least two “exclusive” stories this morning about the new 1


Published: 27 January, 2011


We’ve read at least two “exclusive” stories this morning about the new 1.3 specification for the CI Plus conditional access modules from the DVB Project. This is like the European version of CableCard so that set tops and DVRs no longer need to have encryption on board. The scoops were because whoever wrote these pieces took the considerable effort of browsing through the 316 pages of the downloadable document and making sense of it.

There are a lot of changes and we won’t list them all here, but the new specification came about because the system uses a standard PCMCIA slot, and many conditional access suppliers thought that slot itself represented a stage where content was at risk, because it allows for high value content to travel over a "standard" interface, without any protection.

But while they were tidying up the specification, they have added a new CI Plus MHEG based browser, which allows a range of new interactive services on a TV, the most notable of which are VoD, DVRs and universal EPGs, so the modules will all shortly work with existing VoD services.

Other protection issues addressed include the point where content leaves the CA module and re-enters the host and so new authentication, key generation and copy control forwarding have been set up in the new CI Plus CAM spec, none of which is specific to any particular conditional access system. The new part of this is that there is now authentication to provide confirmation to the CI Module that it is indeed attached to a genuine and legitimate host, and vice versa. So the CAM module can’t be attached to another device that wants to interrogate it for keys, or at least not successfully.

The specification uses shared private keys which are calculated by both the CICAM and Host separately and information passing over the interface is not sufficient for a third device to calculate this key.

Other changes are the way ‘Parental Control’ is handled and the thing now allows access to Host Ethernet facilities, presumably for OTT internet video services to be integrated and protected.

The new CAM modules will become obligatory in about 18 months, and existing suppliers will have to support the new spec by then and stop supplying the old one.

So far 60 million CI Plus device certificates have been issued in two years, so it’s turning into a strong business, and this week major contracts for the supply of CI Plus modules are in our Worth Noting section.


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