Digital terminal adapters were supposed to be cheap (read: disposable) little stop-gap devices, designed to let cable operators eliminate their fat analog TV channels and go all-digital (see Analog Zappers).
But something interesting is happening to DTAs: They’re becoming a lot more snazzy.
At next week’s Cable Show in Chicago, Nagra will be showing off a high-definition DTA with a spiffy guide. The guide, powered by the OpenTV Livewire middleware, provides network logos, program info, what’s on next, device settings and parental controls. (OpenTV is now merged into Nagra; both are owned by Switzerland-based Kudelski Group — see Kudelski Takes Over OpenTV.)
Nagra worked with Broadcom to embed the guide’s animation and graphics into an ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), said Tom Wirth, senior vice president and general manager of Nagra Americas.
Separately, Comcast — a huge proponent of DTAs — has its own internal project, code-named Atom, to test out a simple guide for its adapters and is gearing up to launch an HD version (see Comcast Tests Guide For DTAs, Preps HD Model).
The Nagra HD DTAs are coming in at under $60 each, according to Wirth. Nagra doesn’t actually build any devices itself. Rather, it has partnerships with some 40 hardware suppliers — including ADB, EchoStar, Pace and Technicolor — to develop set-tops and DTAs with its conditional access system and software.
Last year Nagra and others were granted blanket waivers from the FCC of the so-called “integrated set-top ban,” allowing cable operators to deploy DTAs with embedded security (see Nagravision USA Granted Waiver For DTAs). The FCC later clarified that HD DTAs with integrated security were good to go, too.
At that point “we went straight to the HD DTA ecosystem,” Wirth said. “We’re six to nine months ahead” of competitors.
Among Nagra’s customers for the HD DTAs is Cable One, which is using devices manufactured by Korea’s Digital Multimedia Technology (DMT) with the Nagra conditional access. Overall Nagra has more than 30 DTA deployments in the Americas, according to Wirth.
In addition, at the show next week, Nagra is introducing a CableCard and microSD solution to enable security in two-way set-tops, DVRs and mobile devices.
The focus for Nagra isn’t on the hardware but on selling the conditional access system, Wirth said: “If the operator wants to go all-digital, that is a good point for them to get away from proprietary conditional access.”
Of course, Nagra’s CAS is “proprietary” too, in the sense that a single company owns and controls the technology, but Wirth means customers have a wider choice of hardware vendors.
Follow me on Twitter: @xpangler