Kabel Deutschland opens up to CI

March 28, 2008

In a revolutionary move for European cable operators Kabel Deutschland KDG will open up its network to cable tuners with a CI (Common Interface) module, enabling customers to choose from a wider range of consumer electronics equipment. The operator has reached an agreement with the trade association in consumer electronics ZVEI and the Gesellschaft für Unterhaltungs- und Kommunikationselektronik (GFU) to launch a ‘CI Plus” standard.

All parties hope to introduce the first equipment for the new technology as soon as this year’s IFA, the consumer electronics trade fair at the end of August in Berlin. “The availability of digital receiving equipment that can easily connect with any cable connection will give a big push towards the digitalisation of cable,” said Dr. Manuel Cubero.

The industry has now agreed on the technical specifications and is ready to roll out the first integrated products, which will include integrated digital TV sets, PVRs and cable tuners.

In our view this move will certainly help digitalisation of cable households, which have been lagging behind compared to DTT and DTH in Germany. The CI solution is very much in line with recent development on the US market, where the introduction of the ‘Cable card’ has opened up the market for consumers electronics manufacturers.

In Europe KDG now takes the lead as the first operator; in Holland the three cable companies owned by Zesko Holding (Casema, Mukltikabel and @Home) also have a retail model, but this is so far limited to a few licensed set-top boxes and PVRs with a single embedded encryption system.