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Balancing consumer demands with security – how operators should address new technology

Peter OggelIrdeto
First published: 24-08-2015
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Create DateAugust 24, 2015
Last UpdatedAugust 24, 2015

Consumers have come to expect a level of service from operators that matches their experience in other industries - new content services must be delivered as soon as possible to avoid frustration. As well as time-to-market, a second key consideration is protecting the investment that operators put into new products and services. While it is important to roll-out new features rapidly, it is equally important to make sure that revenue from offering new services is not absorbed by illegal activity, such as the theft of new 4K content.

Operators realise that this is a balance that needs to be struck, but many are hamstrung by legacy architectures and multiple technology partners which can significantly delay time to market. It can take time for existing suppliers to update products to take account of new technologies, delaying roll out.

To avoid ‘technological lock-in’ as they wait for suppliers to bring new technology online, operators need to take direct control of all security choices that underpin their whole ecosystem, ensuring the provisioning of appropriate security assets for each service and smooth interaction with the workflows of their chosen suppliers and the different certification authorities.

A case in point can be seen with the adoption of UHD 4K across the industry, which requires operators to negotiate a specific set of security requirements, often with a variety of providers and vendors. The exacting criteria require operators and their suppliers to work closely together to ensure that content is adequately protected from piracy while flexibility is still preserved to allow operators to design simple-to-use and attractive business models for their markets. With this in mind, there are three complex security considerations for operators:

Compliance to MovieLabs specifications

With 4K content and UltraHD consumer experience gaining popularity in the industry today, Hollywood studios have come together to issue a set of guidelines – MovieLabs specifications – with enhanced content protection requirements for UHD movies. Operators who wish to screen UHD movies, especially for early release windows, must work with solution providers that comply with the stringent specifications, which includes but goes beyond forensic watermarking. The specifications cover three sections – DRM System Specifications, Platform Specifications and End-to-End System Specifications.

Defense against piracy

The piracy landscape has been changing over the past few years, as improved broadband access has allowed content redistribution over the internet to flourish. Pirate services have also become more flexible and sophisticated, offering a wide range of high quality content on different devices, with attractive business models that compete with operators.

One of the main challenges associated with securing UHD 4K content would be to prevent the easy and quick redistribution of it over the internet. 4K content is naturally a big draw for piracy. If a breach occurs during the early release window for a UHD 4K movie, it could result in a far greater financial impact than ever seen before. Operators must have a comprehensive anti-piracy strategy and service partner in order to secure UHD 4K content and protect their investment.

Flexibility to set security rules

To get the most value out of UHD 4K content, operators must be able to support a variety of business models for their markets. This means they need a security solution that can set flexible rules on a per event basis and over the lifecycle of the content. For example, movies and sports events would have different security requirements, and the solution will need to support different levels of security on both older and new UHD 4K TVs that support different HDCP versions. They may also want to offer UHD 4K content at a lower resolution on analogue TVs, or on a home network to different devices.

The UHD 4K example above gives an ample overview of the challenges faced by operators when dealing with new technologies. Multiple security partners and products can complicate the roll out of new technology beyond an acceptable timeframe for consumers, and raise the prospect of customer churn. Operators must demand a model that allows them to manage partnerships on a vendor-neutral basis, putting them back in control of all the security and business decisions relating to their content distribution platforms. In addition, they must avoid technology lock-in, enabling them to make use of innovative product features and functionalities as they become available.

This is especially relevant in today’s evolving multiscreen environment, a fast-moving part of the industry where operators need to ensure that current and future business plans are not impeded by limited technology options.

By Peter Oggel, VP Product Management, Irdeto


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