Straight Talk On CableCARD And tru2way

The CableTechTalk blog has a very nice post up today about CableCARD and tru2way. While the blog is run by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), and the post in question was written by Paul Rodriguez, Director of Online Content for the NCTA, so you might expect some editorial slant, I thought it was a nice, factual article. It provides a concise history of the development of CableCARD and tru2way, as well as correcting some of the common misconceptions. I think it is worth a read.

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  • hemo_jr

    Thanks for the link. This clears up a lot of things for me. Of course I still have a lot of questions. E.g., If CCs (Cable Cards)are two way, can TiVo update its software to allow it to take advantage of this? Will the typical Tru2Way box have slots for CCs? What exactly is there about Tru2Way that requires specialized, cable company provided hardware? Can’t a TiVo (for example) have its own Java engine running as part of its system & talking through the CCs?

  • MegaZone

    1. No, because you still need the hardware for two-way communication, and the current TiVo’s do not have it.

    2. Yes, as that post stated tru2way is no replacement for CableCARDs. You still need the CableCARD(s) for authorication.

    3. Nothing about tru2way itself requires cable company hardware (on the client side anyway, the head-end needs to be there of course). Again, CableCARDs are at a lower level, ‘below’ tru2way. The CableCARD handles authentication and authorization, which is a prerequisite for tru2way. But nothing in tru2way requires CableCARD specifically, however, other things – like FCC mandates – do.

    4. Each vendor can implement tru2way support as they wish, as long as they adhere to the specifications and implement the required APIs and functionality. There certainly will be multiple implementations.

  • hemo_jr

    Thanks, So when Paul Rodriguez says the CC is capable of two way communications, he is being disingenuous? Or at least only partially correct? The CCs do seem to be lacking the physical pieces.

    The TiVo certainly has the ability to connect physically to a cable using an F-type connector. So it needs the hardware to put the appropriate electrical signals on the wire and pull off the signals that are digital video/audio?

  • MegaZone

    No, he’s perfectly correct – in context. The cards are capable of two-way communication in that if they’re inserted into a unidirectional device they’re one-way, if they’re inserted into a bidirectional device they’re two-way. The cards have no communication hardware at all (well, OK, the local data bus – I mean no cable communication hardware). They’re just physical authentication tokens.

    You hit on it in your second question. The TiVo lacks a transceiver capable of two-way data communication over the cable connection. It has a cable connection, but the only thing behind it is the tuners. It basically needs a built-in specialized cable modem for the data communication. That’s pretty much what the Tuning Adapter is – just an off-board transceiver for the bidirectional communication needed for SDV. In theory the Tuning Adapter could be used for any other bidirectional communication as well, but the industry hasn’t currently planned to do that – just SDV.