Someone explain the purpose of "pairing" to me

Discussion in 'TiVo Series3 HDTV DVRs' started by Saturn, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. Aug 8, 2007 #1 of 17
    Saturn

    Saturn Lord of the Rings

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    Why do they need to "pair" the cable cards to the device? Why can't they just send a hit to the card to activate it by itself? Tie the card's number to the account. All this pairing business just makes the whole process more complicated and prone to trouble.

    A cable box isn't paired to a particular TV, and you can move those around the house freely without consequence... Why shouldn't we be able to move cable cards around (between slots/devices, etc.)
     
  2. Aug 8, 2007 #2 of 17
    ah30k

    ah30k Well-Known Member

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    [I believe the answer is...] They don't want people taking CableCARDs over to other peoples homes and transferring premium services from home to home. They want them locked to a single viewing location.

    Something like watching the big HBO boxing match at a friends house by bringing your card over to his TiVo.
     
  3. Aug 8, 2007 #3 of 17
    Saturn

    Saturn Lord of the Rings

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    But you could do the same thing with a cable box (try it.) It would be very easy to take your cable box to a friend's house down the street and the cable company wouldn't know the difference.
     
  4. Aug 8, 2007 #4 of 17
    sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

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    Pairing is mostly for DRM. Some people feel there is an added side effect of locking it to a home/device. However you could just call in and say the card stopped working and they will take down the new host/data information and thus you could easily move the card if you really wanted to.

    An activated card will decrypt content from the cable company and send it to the host device.

    What pairing does is set up the system so the "decrypted" content from the CableCARD can be "re-encrypted" with host specific info.

    This added re-encryption is needed if DRM flags are set on your channels (ie CCI=non-zero)

    Some areas have not enabled this DRM (ie CCI=0). In these areas, you can move the cards around all you want and they will still "work" They might not be paired anymore, but they will still display your encrypted content.

    That is, until your cable company starts enabling CCI=non-zero, at which point those channels will beging to fail on your unpaired cards. Not all channels are CCI=non-zero, so those will continue to work with your unpaired but activated card.
     
  5. Aug 8, 2007 #5 of 17
    vstone

    vstone Active Member

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    Will this change when SDV is implemented?
     
  6. Aug 8, 2007 #6 of 17
    sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

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    Are you implying because of 2-way? Isn't a large part of SDV very similar to VOD? As long as you are on the same node, it shouldn't make a difference, and probably as long as you are on the same head-end it won't make a difference, but the latter case has more chance for some implementation to disallow.
     
  7. Aug 8, 2007 #7 of 17
    smbaker

    smbaker Well-Known Member

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  8. Aug 8, 2007 #8 of 17
    Saturn

    Saturn Lord of the Rings

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    Ok, the cable card doesn't necessarily just decrypt the signal, but sometimes decrypt and then re-encrypt it with a key that only that particular host can decrypt. Is that right?

    And pairing them allows the cable co to verify that the host IDs are unique instead of, say, all HackerDVRs using the same host ID so any HackerDVR could decrypt it.

    Makes sense on paper, but like all DRM, is entirely stupid because the box has to be able to decrypt it to show you the content anyway...
     
  9. Aug 8, 2007 #9 of 17
    sfhub

    sfhub Well-Known Member

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    That's a whole different theory to talk about that involves various acronyms, DFAST, HDCP, etc. etc.

    DRM folks have this fantasy that they will force the whole chain from them to your display, passing through various different mediums, equipments, interfaces, etc. to implement encryption, so they can achieve a chain of uninterrupted encrypted content via encryption, decryption, re-encryption, re-decryption, etc. etc.

    All it is doing is causing major headaches for consumers because there are so many areas where there can be a leaky faucet that it is virtually impossible to make it work outside of PowerPoint.
     
  10. Zaph32

    Zaph32 New Member

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    Does pairing lock to a box, or to the house?

    I ask because I'm experiencing issues on one of two TivoHD units, and wanted to try and swap cards as a troubleshooting step. However, I don't want to mess up the working one in the process.
     
  11. classicsat

    classicsat Astute User

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    Pairing locks to the box.

    Your house technically has no unique identification in the greater scheme of pay TV security.
     
  12. jrm01

    jrm01 New Member

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    Actually I just found out this week that pairing locks to a slot in the box. When I swapped the two cards in a S3 it generated new Data numbers (Host stayed the same) and they had to be repaired. (Moto cards in S3).
     
  13. Zaph32

    Zaph32 New Member

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    Nope, that can't be - at least, not on TivoHD.

    My box had an SCard in slot 1 and an MCard in slot 2, unbeknownst to me. I removed the SCard and put the MCard in slot 1 and it worked.
     
  14. jrm01

    jrm01 New Member

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    It could vary by provider. Some do not do any pairing, so you can swap the card anywhere (even new host), others are tighter.

    I didn't believe it either, but with my Moto cards in the S3 I swapped them around and the Data numbers changed for both of them And my status changed from SUBSCRIBED to unknown. They had to be re-paired by Comcast.

    I did all this with the CSR still on the phone. He actually asked me to do it since he wanted to know the answer.
     
  15. dipdewdog

    dipdewdog New Member

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    It would be interesting to find out how many folks have actually had their CableCARDs paired to their TiVos. I know mine aren't, and I'm going to experience problems (namely loss of premium channels) when (if?) Comcast turns on CPMS in my area. I'm tempted to call them and see if they'll pair them for me.
     
  16. drcos

    drcos HD where available

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    sfhub has it. It has to do with the CCI flags. If your provider has implemented the CCI flags (CCI byte is not 0x00)...
    Your card checks the incoming signal to see if you are allowed to watch it. The card then decrypts the incoming stream and then re-encrypts it using a shared key, so that a clear digital HD stream is not actually available inside the box. The shared key is generated using the pairing info (the key is 'shared' with the host, the TiVo).
    You can read this stuff in the cable card specs online.
     
  17. megazone

    megazone Hardcore TiVo Geek

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    You got lucky - or just haven't experienced a problem yet, but will.

    Pairing is between the card and the Host ID - and each slot on the TiVo has a unique Host ID so if you swap the cards it breaks the pairing.

    What happens depends on your cable provider.
     

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