Cabot backs common interface solution for Top Up TV



Cabot Communications, which provides digital TV software for Freeview receivers, has incorporated common interface (CI) support into its digital TV suite.

The move is a significant one for the UK market, because Cabot supplies technology to around 20 Freeview receiver manufacturers. Effectively, Cabot's move means they can now more easily incorporate a CI solution into their receivers than they could before. Currently, manufacturers of Freeview boxes (the majority of which don't accept pay-TV services) face two possible solutions if they want to make receivers that will take the new Top Up TV channels: (a) add a CI slot - which follows an 'open' European standard which will accept any type of pay-TV technology; or (:cool: 'embed' the proprietary pay-TV system that Top Up TV uses (which is called MediaGuard) into the hardware. Cabot's initiative may well signify that manufacturers are now more likely to adopt the CI route than the 'embedded' one.

According to Keith Potter, Cabot's managing director, "integrating embedded MediaGuard is a major development effort with limited market potential," which could take a manufacturer "several man-years of effort to develop." However, by taking the CI approach using Cabot's software, "these development timescales will be brought down to a matter of months, significantly reducing development costs and time to market," he claims. It also means manufacturers can develop a single DTT box for the whole of the European market, rather than just the UK, he suggests, affording them greater economies of scale.

IDTVs are required by European law to incorporate a CI slot, so in theory are already upgradeable to Top Up TV. Cabot's addition of a CI feature to its software suite should enable those IDTV manufacturers who use it to provide speedy support for the new pay-TV service.