NCTA: FCC's Downloadable Security Committee 'veers off course' with AllVid support

An FCC advisory committee has presented the agency with several different software-based options for securing MVPD video content on retail devices.

The Downloadable Security Technology Advisory Committee (DSTAC) was appointed in January to develop a successor to CableCard requirement, which was ended when President Obama signed the Satellite Television Extension Act Reauthorization (STELAR) into law in December. 

The DSTAC is tasked with coming up with a downloadable security technology that can spur a robust retail market for set-tops and other devices that can be used in the pay-TV ecosystem. Members include Jay Rolls, senior VP and CTO of Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR); and Milo Medin, VP of access services at Google.

In making its six-page proposal Friday, the committee walked a tightrope of making the technology relatively simple, recognizing the user interface needs of both retail set-top makers and pay-TV operators, and also accounting for the broad flora and fauna of operator access and video-delivery systems. 

The actual proposal has not yet been publicly released, but Rolls indicated that there is broad agreement on several issues. For one, the DSTAC has agreed that its recommendations should focus on an IP-based approach. The committee also said that the solution doesn't have to be uniform across retail and MVPD-supplied set-top boxes. Schemes to address cloud-based video distribution systems were also introduced in a proposal of differing security technologies that could ultimately be mixed and matched. 

While setting a Sept. 4 deadline for the committee's proposals, the FCC has not established a timeline on which it will act on them. 

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association said, "The DSTAC report highlights the tremendous success of MVPD launched apps, which millions of consumers use today to watch video content via all kinds of retail devices including tablets, smartphones, Xbox, Roku, Kindle Fire, Smart TVs and more. The ongoing introduction of IP technology and cloud-based services will only continue to develop more exciting retail options for consumers."

The NCTA, however, did not look fondly on the committee's inclusion of AllVid, a technology enabling a government-defined gateway device that would unite video from various sources. AllVid is backed by tech companies including Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).

"Regrettably, the report veers off course by including a controversial proposal to place a burdensome technology mandate on MVPDs known as AllVid," the NCTA said. "This approach could jeopardize consumer protections including privacy, emergency alerts, parental controls, and inhibit innovation by allowing the government to dictate the way video content is delivered to consumers. Fortunately, the report reflects substantial opposition to the idea of a new, government-imposed technology mandate and extensively describes the proposal's shortcomings."

For more:
- listen to this FCC webcast
- read this Multichannel News story

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