Boxee brings Comcast to negotiations over basic tier encryption

Boxee, with no external lobbying budget, appears to have almost single-handedly brought Comcast, the largest cable operator in the world, to the negotiating table over basic-tier encryption, and has apparently won everything it was looking to get.


Due to an FCC filing from Comcast, IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), has learned that the small, privately held firm of Boxee, with no external lobbying budget, appears to have almost single-handedly brought Comcast, the largest cable operator in the world, to the negotiating table over basic-tier encryption, and has apparently won everything it was looking to get.

Importantly, the short-term solution appears to be the creation of a new category of set-top box and the resurrection of the “AllVid” initiative. The new box is called an “E-DTA,” which stands for “Ethernet – Digital Transport Adapter.” The E-DTA is able to serve its cable signals over a local network using the DLNA protocol, which makes it a cross between a traditional, simple DTA and what IMS Research refers to as a “Television Gateway Server.”

Stephen Froehlich, senior analyst with IMS Research states, “The proposed E-DTA is an entirely new class of TV gateway server and set-top box. It is clearly related to the now-dormant proposal for ‘AllVid,’ which also relied on a box to translate from the cable TV signal to DLNA.”

Froehlich continues, “Current TV gateway servers are large, elaborate devices that not only consolidate all of the RF front ends for a home, but also include the DVR hard drive and often the broadband gateway as well. However, the E-DTA would be the simplest conceivable form of TV gateway server. It is not entirely clear how much hardware and software re-engineering will be needed to make pending HD DTA designs into E-DTAs.”

According to Liz Dellheim, Boxee’s press relations manager, “It has been good to work with Comcast and come up with a proposed solution that will address the concerns of both the cable companies and Boxee. The essence of the solution is that cable companies will be able to move forward with encryption and that consumers will be able to continue to rely on devices such as the Boxee Box to access basic cable. We have no information regarding timing. We presented the proposed solution to the FCC and will have to wait and see how the FCC takes it from here.”

Comcast’s Ex Parte filing with the FCC can be found here

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