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Yet another interesting "integration ban" twist - Motorola Downloadable MediaCipher

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by dt_dc, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Northern...
    Yet another interesting "integration ban" twist - Motorola Downloadable MediaCipher

    http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6518913659

    File this in the "should have seen it coming" category ... but anyway.

    Fresh on the heels of the FCC stating that BBT's downloadable security solution meets the requirements of the integration ban:
    http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-07-51A1.pdf

    Here comes Motorola with a very similar "Downloadable MediaCipher (DM)" seperable conditional access solution:
    http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/retrieve.cgi?native_or_pdf=pdf&id_document=6518913659

    A "downloadable" / "seperable" solution (like BBT's). Licensable and available to third party STB / CE manufacturers (like BBT's). Allows for "common reliance" between leased and retail products (perhaps even more so than BBT's) ... hey, what's not to love?

    Also, like BBT's solution, depends on proprietary (in this case Motorola MediaCipher) head-end equipment. But hey, fully compatible with already-deployed Motorola MediaCipher equipment (ie, Motorola head-ends ... lots of those around) ... hey, what's not to love?

    POOF, there go the DCH (DCH-3416, etc) boxes and multistream cablecards and whatnot. We hardly knew ye. Looked good at the CES booths and press releases though. Hello DC Downloadable MediaCipher boxes (DCDM-3416? DCD-3416?). Next comes Scientific Atlanta's "Downloadable PowerKey (DP)" and ... wait a couple years for DCAS.

    Anyway, as always, we shall see. Back and forth ... round and round ...
     
  2. davecramer74

    davecramer74 New Member

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  3. Tim N.

    Tim N. New Member

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    I don't understand the implications of this post? What does it mean to the average S3 user? Why is it ominous?
     
  4. Narf54321

    Narf54321 New Member

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    If I am reading the release properly, I believe it means that they are trying to end-run around CableCARD support. Instead of a (so-called) standardized decoder card, this new Motorola MediaCipher thing is DRM software which can be downloaded to "compatible licensed" devices. Of course, this Motorola thingie can only talk to Motorola head-ends.

    The worry is that after nearly 11 years waiting for CableCompanies to adhere to the 1996 set-top box "integration ban," the half-assed CableCARD hardware-based solution is now in danger of being bypassed with newer and incompitable software-based decoders. None of which will work on our S3 units.

    I am a little shocked that the FCC seems willing to authorize these things, since I thought the idea of the 1996 law was to help CableCos avoid head-end lock-in as well as consumers.
     
  5. Jazhuis

    Jazhuis New Member

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    If I understand (and I may be wrong)...

    It's an end-around (or flat-out abandonment?) of CableCard, as (was currently) required by the FCC's integration ban. How?

    How we *wish* things were:
    Integration ban forces CO's to standardize on equipment (i.e. the CableCard spec they designed) in their boxes. This allows CE manufacturers to make devices to a standard, so that users can go buy a tuner (or TiVo) they like, and use it on the CO's system. If you move from town to town, you can still use your preferred tuner (rather than renting from the CO), because they all use the same DCAS infrastructure.

    How this *seems* to make things:
    These (proprietary) systems, while nominally licensable to CE manufacturers, will be picked and chosen individually by CO's for use. Comcast in NY, for instance, may not use the same system as Comcast in LA (or TW, or whatever). CE manufacturers will be unable to manufacture to a single specification, and it will likely be too expensive (or feasible) to license and integrate all the different systems into a consumer box. The cable infrastructure remains fragmented, and thus locked-in by region, company, and rollout. CE manufacturers will either have to make multiple versions of their devices (TiVo BBT, TiVo DM, TiVo SA, etc), which will mean confusion for customers and/or a reliance on the local CO helping them point people to the right devices (suuuure...), or just give up completely.

    In other words, plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose.
     
  6. hornblowercat

    hornblowercat New Member

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    In The Good...
    I'm not surprised by anything any government agency does that doesn't profit big business and screw the consumer. You shouldn't be either.

    Does anyone remember how when cable was deregulated how that was suppose to help consumers?
     
  7. ah30k

    ah30k Active Member

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    First off, I think getting approval for downloadable security does not relieve them from having to offer CableCARDs. The theory is that if they offer the CableCARD flavor of separable security and the Downloadable flavor of separable security they everyone wins! In theory.

    In practice, if the cable companies get to choose a different flavor of dog-food than the consumer variety of dog food then are we really making them eat their own dog food?
     
  8. pkscout

    pkscout Active Member

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    Why would you say none of these will work with the S3? If the encryption/decryption is software based, couldn't TiVo just license it and download it as an update? Shoot, that would be much better than needed new hardware. If everyone goes to software, TiVo could even include two or three or four security stacks that would get activated based on your cable provider.
     
  9. Jazhuis

    Jazhuis New Member

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    ...again most likely requiring that TiVo (or any other CE manufacturer) directly interact (time + money) with each CO, and probably in many cases, down to the local franchise level, to make sure that they have the right stack activated. And on top of *that*, you'll run into all sorts of other problems (i.e. having to clear your entire system with somebody "official" to make sure that you aren't acidentally leaving decryption keys lying around in unprotected memory for someone to strip out, a la AACS, and all sorts of other hoops). That was part of the (mild) beauty of removable CableCards, in that it was a separate physical device that handled things; a CE manufacturer could incorporate the interface then throw their hands up and say, "It's up to the CO to protect their own encryption keys now!"

    Also, BBT's letter at least claims to allow support for an open standard, i.e. DOCSIS (their example); CO's would, of course, need to change out head-end equipment to match. Motorola, on the other hand, says no head-end equipment needs to be changed out, but of course the CE manufacturers would have to license it. Let's see -- CO's spend money to change out their equipment, or make CE manufacturers spend money to license to the same spec?

    Eh. In either case, the cost will be immediately passed on to us, anyway. :(

    (Note: This is still as I am reading these publications, and I may be off somewhat)
     
  10. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Northern...
    If the decryption is software based, and can be downloaded and run on Tivo's hardware and does not depend on some sort of hardware root of trust or secure processor, then yes Tivo could license it and download it as un update.

    The CableLabs DCAS proposal / downloadable decryption software will not run on Tivo's hardware and can not be downloaded as an update. DCAS relies on a secure (hardware) microprocessor. No DCAS secure microporcessor ... no DCAS decryption software.

    Motorola and BBT are rather light on the technical details of their 'downloadable' security systems ... but ...

    Intel, CEA et al have repeatedly suggested that a pure software decryption solution that can be downloaded and run on 'general purpose' processors should be developed. Or ... at least ... on Intel processors. i'm a little fuzzy reading some of Intel's comments if 'general purpose processors' and 'Intel processors' are one-and-the-same and if there are any non-Intel 'general purpose processors' ...

    But anyway ...

    The NCTA, MPAA, and CableLabs have repeatedly, ad nauseum reiterated that a purely software-based conditional access sytem is not acceptable. That some sort of underlying hardware "root of trust" must be present for acceptable security. A purely software "root of trust" won't cut it (again, according to NCTA, MPAA, CableLabs).
    Actually, I believe Motorola and Scientific have made similar comments ... but I could be wrong on that. Intersting to dig back through and see what they've said about "pure software" vs. "software + hardware root of trust".

    Like I said, BBT and Motorola are light on details. But, I would be shocked (for a variety of reasons) if their 'solutions' weren't similar. Yes, a downloadable 'software' decryption element. But ... it's only (likely) to download and run if you've also got the right hardware.
     
  11. sommerfeld

    sommerfeld Lucky (?) 200 member

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    Arlington, MA
    my understanding is that recent model tivos do in fact have a "hardware root of trust" in that the system firmware refuses to boot code which doesn't pass some sort of integrity check.

    But a "hardware root of trust" doesn't magically make DRM possible, either.
     
  12. mattack

    mattack Active Member

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    but it did, didn't it? They used to charge for extra outlets even if you just had a splitter and a cable-ready TV in the other room... right?
     
  13. Tim N.

    Tim N. New Member

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    I'm not a true expert on this, but I know the TIVO has a sophisticated hardware encryption device on the board. I also know the Moto boxes use a version from the same family. They both have the same crypto library to implement as they choose. These are top level, banking level, secure devices. Therefore, the Series 3 probably can implement any encryption scheme the Moto can implement.
     
  14. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Its not a root of trust suitable for the decryption of cable programming. though. If it were my choice, I'd demand a sepearate secure security processor also.
     
  15. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Northern...
    Some of the posts above have addressed the "big picture" / "long term" issues. But to go back to the more specific / S3 users (and potential users).

    If cable companies use CableCard hosts, like the CableCard models Motorola and Scientific Atlanta have been showing, in order to meet the FCC's 7/07 'integration ban', there is the potential for several possible benefits for S3 users. Lots of 'ifs' and 'possibles' and 'potentials' in there. But, in a nutshell, the cable companies would be using CableCards for their conditional access for their boxes ... just like the S3 ... it's reasonable to expect some benefits from that 'common reliance' such as:
    - Better support
    - Less problems / technical glitches
    - Better pricing / more competitive pricing with the cable company's own equipment (elimination of multiple 'digital tier' charges and the like)
    - Availability of MultiStream Cards (which could also lead to more of the above)
    - Better CableCard installation procedures and / or pricing and / or even more widespread self-install options
    - Etc.

    Just one example, there's some people that currently can't rent a CableCard from their cable company ... they gotta buy two of them at $150 a pop. If their cable company has to start using CableCards themselves are they going to still force customers to buy the CableCard?

    Note: I will say it's sometimes easy to overstate / overestimate the potential benefit of cable companies using CableCards themselves too. For example, going back to those 'technical glitches' ... it's very possible that a Third Party box with Third Party firmware with a Motorola CableCard on a Motorola head-end with people trained by Motorola to support and install equipment may still have a few more technical glitches than a Motorola box with Motorola firmware with a Motorola CableCard on a Motorola head-end with people trained by Motorola to support and install equipment.

    Anyway, if you're perfectly pleased with your cable company's CableCard support ... not such a big deal. But, if you think that maybe, if your cable company started using CableCards themselves in their own equipment ... just maybe you might see better support and pricing as an S3 user (or potential user) ...

    This becomes 'ominous' becuase alot of those (potential) benefits now seem like they (potentially) won't happen. If cable companies use boxes that use Motorola's "Downloadable MediaCipher" to meet the integration ban instead of CableCard boxes ... well ... it would seem to just perpetuate the current status quo for S3 users (and potential users).

    Now ... cable companies may still choose to use the CableCard boxes (I can think of some reasons why they would). Then again ... they may not (I can think of lots of reasons why they wouldn't). I dunno ... have to wait and see.

    The next thing I'd expect to see would be some small / mid-size cable company applying for a 'temporary waiver' (until these boxes are available) of the integration ban along with a purchase order for a batch of the "Downloadable MediaCipher" boxes and an affidavit that they'll be deploying them when available.
     
  16. sfhub

    sfhub Active Member

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    I agree, in theory yes, and also agree in practice it is most likely a whole different story.

    When they cable company doesn't eat their own dog food various dog food poisons are more likely to slip into production. Various things like loss of authorization, guide problems, tuning issues, pairing problems, etc. etc.

    These will of course never be blamed on the actual causes (probably some misconfiguration or head-end upgrade) They will be blamed on this archaic crappy technology the cable company was forced to support and if you use "their" PVR, this won't happen.
     
  17. sfhub

    sfhub Active Member

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    That is absolutely true and a good point, but in that scenario, the 3rd party vendor at least has some control over their own destiny because with enough "tweaks" to their firmware or design, they should be able the reach comparable levels of plug and play as the Motorola equipment.
     
  18. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Northern...
    Multichannel News article:
    http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6427152.html

    One interesting blurb:
     
  19. dt_dc

    dt_dc Mostly Harmless

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    Northern...
    Yes ... but then there's the Scientific Atlanta box with Scientific Atlanta firmware with a Scientific Atlanta CableCard on a Scientific Atlanta head-end with people trained by Scientific Atlanta to support and install equipment ...

    Motorola of course, doesn't have to deal with those and any equivalent "tweaks" that need to be made to accomodate both ... while third parties would ...
     
  20. sfhub

    sfhub Active Member

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    How about we say it this way, a big reason people want CableCARD to be used to satisfy the integration ban is because they feel there is safety in numbers.

    If the goal of a particularly entity is to, either consciously or subconsciously, "break" things then it is basically a cat&mouse game and there are many ways to play.
     

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