The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) has reported to the FCC that it is feasible and preferable to move security away from CableCARD and to the Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS). Instead of using a CableCARD hardware key for authentication and decryption, a common security chip is embedded within set-top boxes or televisions will receive and apply a software security key downloaded from your cable providers. Basically, they’ve developed a framework to allow the download of digital certificates. Several manufacturers including Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta have collaborated in the design and testing of the hardware and common language of DCAS. The NCTA expects this technology to begin appearing in consumer devices the summer of 2008.
The good news is that these security features are separate and distinct from the ongoing development of multistream and bidirectional functions currently associated with CableCARDs. We can expect to see that same technology in DCAS devices. Ultimately, implementing DCAS would be simpler for consumers and providers to manage (any set-top box should work with any cable provider without needing to acquire a unique CableCARD). However the limited lifespan of CableCARD technology is an expense manufacturing will ultimately pass along to consumers. Not to mention that CableCARD TiVo box or HDTV you buy in 2006 could be superseded in 2008.