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Motorola unveils parallel DTCP-IP and cloud strategies for pay TV

It’s almost as if everyone in the US agreed to make all their Over The Top announcements together at The Cable Show this week in Chicago, perhaps it’s


Published: 16 June, 2011


It’s almost as if everyone in the US agreed to make all their Over The Top announcements together at The Cable Show this week in Chicago, perhaps it’s because it’s the last date in the Summer for products that will be delivered this year in the holiday season. But perhaps top of the pile of announcements are those from Motorola Mobility which issued a broadside of new devices, which give it an end to end OTT capability, in an attempt to ensure its continued dominance of US cable.

Gone is the wishy, washy Motorola which always came last to a new technology, rather begrudgingly, and instead this is a business fighting for every deal that it has on its home soil. The two major announcements was one in partnership with Comcast Innovation Labs which has jointly developed its new Televation home WiFi TV device and the other with Time Warner Cable for a home video gateway, the DCX3600M, which delivers video to and around a cable home in IP format.

The shape of Motorola Mobility was always going to force it to head down a path where it led on communication between pay TV service providers and handsets and tablets, and the move has the stamp of CEO Sanjay Jha, who has driven the company’s comeback in handsets over the past three years.

The first part of Motorola’s TV to phone strategy is the Comcast co-developed device, which can tune into cable TV coax, decrypt using CableCard, and then resend the video stream out around the home as WiFi, after re-encoding and re-encrypting it. The device is called the Televation and has a 1GHz digital tuner alongside the CableCard and streams the cable video signal throughout the home to portable devices and other set tops.

Motorola said at the Cable show in Chicago this week that it worked closely with engineers at Comcast Innovation Labs to develop Televation, which implies that Comcast will be the first to deploy the technology. Perhaps Comcast will even have a part of the intellectual property and an exclusive for a period. However no prices or timescales for Comcast using this were given. If Motorola manages such a deal, then it could also have found a major buyer for its Xoom tablet in the same stroke, making it available to 23 million US cable homes through Comcast.

Motorola has always said that it was developing a TV Tablet for Verizon’s FiOS service, but so far Comcast and Time Warner, it’s oldest stalwart clients, are the ones that appear to be ready to rely on new Motorola technology.

There is a considerable technological leap in the Televation product and it will need some neat footwork by Comcast to come into play. The big problem here has always been the ability to protect video streams once they are bouncing around the home on WiFi, and in a parallel announcement Motorola Mobility has separately launched a version of DTCP-IP provided by its recent DRM acquisition Secure Media. The system is called Internet Protocol Rights Management-Home Network (IPRM-HN) and it has just been passed by the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator's (DTLA) approval process for both streaming and storage. Now that doesn’t mean that the Hollywood Studios have okayed it, for that it would probably have to pass some kind of security audit and then get proposed by the DLNA as a standard in its stack. As we understand it DTCP-IP has to be implemented with a security chip in the hardware, and yet this version appears not to have that since it is aimed at both Android and iOS and although Motorola could put a chip into its Xoom tablet, it can’t put one inside an Apple iOS device although it could design a dongle for it.

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