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NAGRA Blog: Is the U.S. Cable Industry Open for Innovation? NAGRA’s Altice USA Deal May Indicate Yes.

By Christopher Schouten, Sr. Director Product Marketing


The U.S. cable market has historically been a closed, vertical environment dominated by a few historically incumbent players. As discussed in another article, many industry observers believe it has become “bogged down and inflexible” when it comes to content protection.

So when we unveiled the news that Altice USA selected NAGRA content protection for its U.S. cable operations, we were not so surprised by the reaction. Yes, the deal was with the fourth largest cable operator in the United States. But as industry experts have since pointed out, it was more than that.
It was a groundbreaking deal that changes the landscape, opens opportunities for innovation, and brings choice to the American cable market. It broke the duopoly’s hold on American cable. Something vendor after vendor have been attempting for years. As one commentator explained: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of this announcement.”

Embracing this flexibility represents a key – and valuable – philosophical move, Multichannel.com explained. “Atlice USA’s selection of NAGRA’s content protection platforms marks a major shift in the MSO’s legacy security platforms…and should help to unify the operator’s technology approach, as Altice and Nagra already work together in other parts of the globe.”

With NAGRA CONNECT, the converged CAS/DRM protection solution for broadcast, IPTV, OTT and the connected home, and the MediaLive platform, Altice USA will be able to deploy new IP- and QAM-based content including 4K Ultra HD. Through the use of advanced encryption technology, the NAGRA solution can efficiently coexist within legacy U.S. cable systems while avoiding duplication of precious bandwidth and enabling an open choice of set-top box suppliers.

NAGRA’s role in opening up this ecosystem, is, at least in part, due to its reputation for working seamlessly with a broad range of content delivery platforms.

Lightreading.com’s senior editor, cable/video, Mari Silbey joined the conversation and noted in a recent news analysis, “Importantly, NAGRA … has credibility outside the traditional pay-TV market…Its DRM technology is approved for use with Netflix service, allowing Netflix content to be accessed on NAGRA-enabled platforms. This means that over-the-top video can sit side by side with pay-TV video under the same umbrella of content protection. Theoretically, even new retail products -- like certain smart TVs -- could use NAGRA's solution to enable access to Netflix over IP on the one hand, and QAM-based pay-TV services offered by Altice USA on the other.”

So it appears that U.S. cable is poised to make changes to the status quo to evolve with the times. It is very likely that this is just the beginning of a new open world for operators as they work to remain vibrant in an extremely competitive marketplace.