With CableCARD just gathering steam, and TiVo’s HD CableCARD system due in mid-2006, the cable industry is already talking about what comes after CableCARD. Their concept is the Downloadable Conditional Access System (DCAS). DCAS would eliminate the need for specialized hardware, like a digital cable box or a CableCARD from your cable provider, and allow for a single, standardized digital cable receiver. Your cable provider would download the digital access keys to the receiver to enable it to work with their network. Basically standardized, secure hardware would allow downloadable software to take over the roll of the CableCARD. Right now they’re looking at DCAS possibly rolling out in 2008.
Interestingly, the report filed with the FCC (PDF) has several mentions of bi-directional CableCARD it it sounds like devices are already being certified. That bodes well for TiVo’s unit.