NDS rules out CI+

International technology company NDS considers the new generation of common interface (CI), CI+, to be safe, but too expensive. “The CI+ consortium has announced a royalty regime that seems extraordinarily expensive,” CEO Abe Peled (left) told German industry publication VDI-Nachrichten. “We think that for the same money that a CI+ module would cost, you could get a reasonably good set-top box.”

Peled stated that NDS was a “big supporter” of the DVB standard CPCM (Content Protection and Copy Management) which enables similar functions to CI+ without the cost associated with a separate module. “You can also achieve the same effect as intended for CI+ with Simulcrypt, which we have successfully demonstrated.”

Peled cited the US cable card, which NDS has supported from the outset, as a good example: “This is comparable to CI+ but the US cable companies tried to move to a different solution of embedded CI instead of a separate module.”

According to Peled, NDS does not support the incumbent CI modules because the interface between the module and the box was not secure. “For CI+ we have no security concern, but it is expensive.” He added that, however, “we support CI+, if our customers request it”.

Meanwhile, NDS has won Middleware contracts from TeleColumbus and PrimaCom. NDS will supply its MediaHighway product to manage the cable operator’s set-top boxes. NDS says MediaHighway now has a leadership position as the “pre-eminent” supplier of Middleware in German pay-TV.

TeleColumbus and PrimaCom are already using NDS’ VideoGuard conditional access system. TeleColumbus and PrimaCom are grouped together and are Germany’s third-largest cable operator with some 3.5m homes.

Markus Schmid, CEO of Tele Columbus and PrimaCom, explained: “Following our choice of NDS VideoGuard, we now have also selected its MediaHighway middleware in order to benefit from an end-to-end solution with NDS as one of our main technology partners. NDS middleware offers many advantages to us, fulfilling the core requirement for centralised and efficient management of our STB population, currently being deployed in many independent networks which have widely varying headend technology. Based on these two world market-leading solutions from NDS, we look forward to introducing the next generation of digital services to enhance the TV experience for our subscribers – and provide a best-in-class technology infrastructure for our content and programming partners.”

Yves Padrines, Vice President, Business Development at NDS and General Manager NDS GmbH, said: “We are proud to announce that with Tele Columbus and PrimaCom, one of the leading cable groups in the German market has decided to select MediaHighway middleware to enhance their businesses and we look forward to supporting the Group in its upcoming initiatives.” He continued: “This announcement further strengthens the position of NDS and MediaHighway in the German market. We are gratified that Germany’s pay-TV innovators have entrusted NDS technology to help them deliver a superior viewing experience to their audiences.”

NDS sees strong growth potential in the German market: “We believe that Germany is a fantastic market for pay-TV via satellite and cable,” Peled told VDI-Nachrichten.

“As consolidation among the operators moves on, investment in new technologies makes sense,” said Peled. “We are convinced that viewers will increasingly select new features such as HDTV or hybrid personal video recorders, with the result that pay-TV will offer them a more engaging TV experience than just free-TV. US and UK figures show that subscriber numbers do substantially increase thanks to HD,” he explained.

NDS plans to strengthen its market position mainly through technological innovations, continuing to invest in new technologies: “We will particularly focus on hybrid set-top box technologies that can connect the viewer to both broadband and TV content, and our next generation middleware, that supports these hybrid devices,” Peled said.

Peled added that the company is also investing in the field of targeted advertising with its new solutions portfolio NDS Dynamic. “This area will evolve over the next five years and become increasingly interesting with the growth in the number of broadband-enabled boxes deployed. With viewers enabled to receive targeted ads that are relevant to them, for example localised ads for people living in Munich or Hamburg, the free-TV channels will also want to participate proactively in pay-TV because it allows them to do more effective advertising.”

NDS offers encryption system VideoGuard and middleware MediaHighway, amongst other solutions. In Germany, the company has won pay-TV operator Premiere, cable companies Kabel BW and Tele Columbus and IPTV operator Arcor as customers.