If Pay TV operators want to make their services available without providing set-top boxes and still remain the default UX for consumers, they could pursue the ‘operator-as-an-app’ model using a custom integration with various smart TV manufacturers, or they could instead use a Conditional Access Module (CAM), in dongle form factor, as the foundation for a Direct-to-TV offer. Both approaches establish a virtual set-top box experience, where the Pay TV operator effectively takes control of the TV set as if the consumer had plugged a set-top box into HDMI1.
But a new White Paper from NEOTION and SmarDTV argues that the CAM Direct-to-TV model is superior because it gives Pay TV operators ongoing control of what happens next – including app and security updates across the lifecycle of the display device.
Operators have guaranteed ongoing control over the user experience and the data they can collect. Software updates do not have to be integrated with multiple types of television set across what is a highly fragmented device/OS landscape -you just update the CAM dongle.
“A NEOTION and SmarDTV CAM converts a generic TV set into an operator branded CPE (customer premise equipment) with guaranteed quality of service throughout its lifecycle. The CAM is secure by design and compliant with the latest specialist security requirements,” the authors state.
The White Paper reviews the security capabilities of a CI+ CAM approach including the use of a specified CI+ LLP solution to protect communication between a CAM and the host, the availability of the recently introduced ECP (Enhanced Copy Protection) scheme and the implementation of security mechanisms on the latest generation of chipsets (Trust Execution Environment and Secure Media Path). Watermarking can further strengthen security.
The paper reviews the role of the HbbTV OpApp (Operator Application) standard as a way to achieve the operator-as-an-app outcome, whereby a platform owner effectively gains UX control of television sets, or indeed set-top boxes bought by consumers via retail, without supplying their own STB. It argues that while HbbTV OpApp provides a solution for current generation TVs – from 2019 onwards – it has no answer for legacy televisions (or a role in regions with poor IP connectivity).
In fact, the paper explains the benefits of using HbbTV OpApp with a CI+ CAM, including the ability to launch OpApp when there is no Internet connection (which includes smart TVs that someone has not connected). “The CAM becomes a useful tool for Pay TV operators to convert the offline subscriber base,” the paper argues. You can also use the CAM for first-level authentication of end-user rights before launching an OpApp installation.