SCM Micro Makes Pitch For Open, Inter-operable CAS

New Delhi: | Updated: Feb 19 2003, 05:30am hrs
At a time when set-top box manufacturers are waiting for the Budget announcements, hoping that the duties on boxes and their components would fall, US-headquartered SCM Microsystems is making a pitch in the India market with its open standards and inter-operability options. All this in preparation for the conditional access system (CAS), set to roll out in the metros by July 14.

BIS Favours Open Architecture

Although some broadcasters and consumer electronic companies have been opposing the government norms on open architecture system in direct-to-home (DTH) television, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has taken a final view in favour of the open system. BIS has drawn out the specifications for DTH implementation in the country with the open architecture in mind, according to sources.
The government had referred back to the BIS over the set-top box norms in DTH, saying that the Bureau would have the last word on it.
In a day-long meeting with BIS representatives on DTH set-top box specifications here on Tuesday, broadcasters such as Star opposed the open system once again. According to them, theres no proven technology as far as common interface system is concerned.
But, internationally, the US and the European countries are moving towards the open architecture or the common interface system, with both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the European Council mandating removable conditional access.

Offering an alternative to the embedded system, SCM Microsystems is the leading supplier of removable conditional access modules for the global digital TV market. SCM is a source of development tools used by consumer electronics manufacturers around the world, preparing to enter the open digital TV market, according to the company.

Elaborating on the technology, vice-president of Digital TV (worldwide) division of SCM Microsystems Michael Krall said the modules, that the company makes, are inserted into the common-interface (CI) digital set-top box receivers, to enable inter-operability and open standards. The inter-operability and the open option allows consumers to switch over from one cable operation or broadcasters bouquet to another in case of dissatisfaction with service, with very little additional expenditure. Another advantage of inter-operable/open system is that if a consumer shifts to another town/city, he can do with minimum additions to his set-top box, Mr Krall said.

Specifically on the India market, he said SCM is in talks with some key domestic players including BPL. On the whole, it is exploring collaborations with Nokia, Samsung and LG, among others.

On how much the company is planning to invest in India, Mr Krall said it would depend on the demand. Giving an estimate of the saleability of the products, he said 1.5 million modules had been sold in 2002 around the world. The module is priced at anything from $37 to $45. A cost reduction is likely, if the volumes go up, he added. For the India market, a more realistic $25 is what the company officials is talking about.

This is how one can do a comparison between embedded and common interface CAS system. In the case of an embedded system, the conditional access feature is in-built.