DLNA Also Wants In On CableCARD Successor Talks

Comcast, TWC, Cox, CableLabs Among Backers Of ‘VidiPath’
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Las Vegas -- Count the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) among the groups that want to bend the ear of the Federal Communications Commissions as the current set-top integration ban gets set to expire this December and the Commission pushes ahead on new CableCARD rules.

During a briefing here last week at the International CES, DLNA officials confirmed that the group has submitted a request to be part of the FCC working group (called the Downloadable Security Technical Advisory Committee, or DSTAC) that will look into developing a separable security platform that would succeed the CableCARD, which has failed to generate a vibrant retail market for cable-ready video devices.

DLNA’s interest centers on VidiPath, the brand name for a set of technical guidelines (also referred to as “CVP-2”) that allow subscription TV content from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to be supported on retail-bought devices, including set-tops, gaming consoles, tablets and PCs. Under that initiative, all content from the pay-TV provider, including live, linear TV, DVR recordings and video-on-demand fare, would be delivered securely to those devices over the home network from an MVPD-supplied gateway/server.

If DLNA becomes part of the working group, expect it to advocate for VidiPath. Beyond Broadband Technology (BBT), a cable-backed consortium that has developed a downloadable security platform, is also trying to join the new FCC working group, as is TiVo, which is working with Comcast on a non-CableCARD solution for retail TiVo devices. The work Charter Communications and Cablevision  Systems have done around downloadable security is also expected to factor into the discussions.

But VidiPath has the backing of some big industry players, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CableLabs and Cox Communications. Among that group, Cox confirmed that its current Contour products support CVP-1 (DVR-recorded content), and that a release slated for the second quarter of 2015 will support the addition of linear content on a Cisco Systems-made HD-DVR outfitted with six tuners.

Here at last week’s show, Donna Moore, DLNA’s executive director, said about 20 companies are in the queue for the first round of VidiPath certification testing, slated for the second quarter.  DLNA hasn’t identified who will be in the mix, but confirmed that the types of devices that will be tested include smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, set-tops and gaming consoles. CableLabs said its CVP-2 Server Reference Design is part of the VidiPath Certification Test Bed.

“Comcast is working closely with consumer electronics manufacturers to roll out services that can be enjoyed on a broad range of VidiPath Certified products as they become available,” Kenneth Klaer, senior vice president of premises technologies at Comcast Cable, in a statement. “We are looking forward to offering our subscribers many options for viewing Comcast content on the devices they like best.”

“We have been working closely with DLNA members leading up to this Certification phase and steadily upgrading our Contour service network to support VidiPath capabilities,” added Steve Necessary, VP of video product and strategy at Cox. “We will be releasing our next upgrade of VidiPath capabilities by the second quarter of 2015.”

At the show, several suppliers demonstrated elements based on VidiPath guidelines, including Broadcom (chips and software for set-tops), Elliptic Technologies (the CableLabs reference device),  JetHead (HTML5-based client software running on Broadcom silicon), and Silicondust US (its HDhomeRun streaming media server).

Looking ahead, DLNA is also working on updated guidelines that will include support for cloud-based apps and services as well as 4K/Ultra HD video.