CI Plus 2.0 the future for content protection or a standard that is too late to the party?

What is it? Common Interface Plus (CI Plus) or just Common Interface (CI) as it originally was, has been around for over a decade as a means to ofer platform independent content protection for broadcast TV. On paper the standard is ideal from a consumer’s perspective, allowing Figure 1: PCMCIA CI Plus CAM module in a you to buy an offthefshelf TV or STB TV. and then buy the CAM (Conditional To encourage Operator adoption of Access Module) for the particular CI Plus, the standard ofered a Operator’s service that you want to means for Operators to present their access. If you want to change own branded interface and content Operator service, there’s no need to discovery portal. The technology get a new TV or STB, just change the that enabled this was a CAM resident CAM. Over time, the standard has application which would be signalled evolved to meet the changing as available when a user navigated requirements for protecting frst SD to one of the Operator’s channels. TV transmissions (CI), then HD (CI The user could then choose to Plus), and more recently 4K content launch it, similar to a red button (CI Plus ECP). The standard has also interactive broadcast application. widened its scope beyond traditional The CI Plus CAMs also provided a broadcast delivered TV, enabling the mechanism whereby IP services CAM to be used to descramble IP could be delivered to legacy devices, delivered content as well. with the CAMs having direct network connections and being able to receive and decode the IP content directly and transform it into a format a legacy TV or STB could buy through standard retail present. channels, and all the Operator had to do was make sure CAMs were available for its service.

Part of the reason was that STB vendors weren’t keen to adopt the PCMCIA form factor CAM modules, as they were an expensive interface which eroded their margins. TV Figure 2: SmartDTV WiFi enabled CAM for manufacturers had little choice as . legislation was passed in Europe that compelled TV manufacturers to So, the CI Plus a wonderful thing for adopt the standard for all of their both consumers and Operators, but products. A knockfon efect of this if CI Plus is so great, why isn’t it legislation, was that TV dominating the market for content manufacturers required diferent protection? Why, despite being in variants of their chassis for Europe almost every TV in Europe, aren’t all vs the rest of the world, which was Operators using it and why don’t far from ideal in the manufacturers more STB manufacturers look to eyes, but at least it was a level adopt it? playing feld with all manufacturers Why isn’t it more widely have to comply. used? Even though every new TV, in Well, there are several reasons why Europe at least, would have a CI Plus everyone isn’t using CI Plus today. interface, Operators still resisted the Firstly, the PayTV market has temptation to ditch their STBs. historically been STB based, as it Although CI Plus enabled an provides Operators with a platform Operator to deliver an encrypted with which they can completely service direct to a TV, it didn’t control the end user experience and enable an Operator to control the roll out new features to attract new end user experience. Yes, CI plus had subscribers. Yet, this comes at a the concept of CAM resident price of the STB hardware and applications, but these only allowed software, having to manage the the Operator to tweak the look ‘’ installation process, returns, feel of the interface when a user customer support etc, So, why did browsed to their channels. It didn’t Operators not leap at the chance to help that until relatively recently the adopt CI Plus. CI Plus would mean CAM resident Apps were MHEG that they could use any offthefshelf based, which are tricky to author, STB or TV which the consumer would and don’t provide a huge scope for the Operator to truly diferentiate. weren’t able to support such a The move to HbbTV based CAM feature directly, and the only option resident Apps does improve things, for Operators looking to ofer DVR but the Operator is still limited in capabilities to their subscribers was what they can do to control the end an STB. platform. Indeed, this is a topic The plight of CI/CI Plus with within HbbTV who are introducing Operators was exacerbated by the new OppApp (Operator Application) fact that, by its very nature, is an extensions to enabled Operators to open standard. New features have to have more control over the end user be agreed by all contributing experience. partners before they can be adopted, which takes time, sometimes a long time. It’s then harder for an Operator to be frst to market with a new compelling feature that is going to attract subscribers. Returning to the DVR example; DVR was only standardised in CI Plus in version 1.4 of the standard, where CAMs were specifed to be able to handle multiple streams for record and playback. Before then, anyone wanting to use CI/CI plus on a DVR would require separate CAMs for watching one stream while recording another, which was expensive and hard to explain to the consumer.

During the early days of the CI/CI Plus standard, another infuence on its uptake was the fact that the Figure 3: CAM Resident App Pay Per View majority of the proprietary Example. Only limited control over the (CA) companies end-user experience is available. also had their own middleware oferings; Nagra had two biggest. As well as ofering the content In addition, if you wind back the protection, they also ofered the clock to the earlier days of CI/CI Plus, middleware to enable the advanced DVR was the new feature that features that use it, such as DVR. As everyone wanted. At the time TVs such, the CA vendors ofered a more Europe, but also as far afeld as India complete package that enabled and Uzbekistan. Uptake in Europe Operators to bring new features to comes from users having access to a market quicker and help drive range of overlapping PayTV services subscriber uptake. via satellite, and there being market demand for a swappable solution The last reason why Operators didn’t such as CI Plus. So, it’s not that CI fock to CI Plus as a means of Plus hasn’t been a success, it’s just protecting their premium services that it hasn’t lived up to its full was security. The original CI potential with it still being avoided standard, which admittedly was only by the larger Operators. designed to protect SD content, once the CAM decrypted the content, it CI Plus 2.0 transmitted it infthefclear to the So, what is CI Plus 2.0 and will it MPEG Soc for decode and display. improve on the fortunes of CI/CI Plus. The CA vendors were able to Firstly, CI Plus 2.0 is not new, the capitalise on such weaknesses when standard was published in 2015/16 dealing with Operators and Content by the DVB, but it hasn’t yet been Owners. As CI evolved into CI Plus, ratifed by the CI Plus Limited and HD content was introduced, Liability Partnership (LLP). This such weaknesses were corrected, means that the standard could but the CA vendors remained one technically still change, and step ahead introducing more secure, manufacturers have therefore been and “better” solutions. Furthermore, reluctant to adopt it. However, over the CA vendors were the ones that the past 12 months the picture has shouldered the liability should their started to change, and the cause of solution be hacked. In the case of that change we’ll come to in a CI/CI Plus the onus is on the device minute. manufacturer, which in the case of a Before that, back to CI Plus 2.0, and major ‘A’ brand may provide some what is it? Well the most signifcant reassurance to content owners, but development is the move away from they may be less willing to entrust the PCMCIA form factor to a USB their premium content to smaller, based form factor. USB is now nofname, TV/STB manufacturers, standard on all TVs and STBs, and it even if the solution has to be removes the need for large (read formerly certifed. expensive) PCMCIA connectors. This Accordingly, most of the big also enables TV manufacturers to Operators stay wedded to their have a truly global chassis, rather STBs. However, CI/CI Plus has had than having to have dedicated success, mainly with small to midf European sets, and reduces the cost sized Operators largely across barrier for STB manufacturers looking to adopt CI Plus 2.0. So good in response to Nagra’s TV Key ™ news all round. initiative.

Figure 5: Nagra's TVKey™ USB CAM..

TV Key™ is essentially a USB form

Figure 4: USB form factor CAM factor CAM, but rather than being based on open standards it uses UHD Content Protection proprietary Nagra technology within In addition to the physical changes, the CAM, paired with a Nagra CI Plus 2.0 also incorporates hardware root of trust embedded in additional security enhancements for the MPEG Soc. Mstar and Novatek 4K UHD content. These security have partnered with Nagra to deliver enhancements have also been the frst TV MPEG SoCs to support TV added to the conventional CI Plus 1.4 Key, and Samsung is the frst TV standard as the Enhanced Content manufacturer to demonstrate a Protection (ECP) specifcation compliant TV. TV Key™ is similar to addendum, but they make most CI Plus 2.0 but is based on sense when combined with the new proprietary Nagra technology rather USB form factor. The ECP security than an open standard. Note, it’s enhancements mandate the use of a worth pointing out that if another CA Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) vendor wanted to produce a TV key to protect all secrets related to the of their own, they either have to ask CI Plus decryption process, a the MPEG SoC (System On Chip) hardware root of trust and a secure vendors to include their own video path on the MPEG decoder. technology in their chipsets, or Again, ECP can be used with the license Nagra’s. Accordingly, there is legacy PCMCIA form factor CI Plus now increased interest in CI Plus 2.0 CAMs, but only newer TV/STB from device manufacturers and chipsets will have support MPEG chipset vendors, keen to support a SoCs with a TEE and hardware root single open standard rather than of trust, so older TV sets will not be multiple proprietary ones. Indeed, able to use it. noises from the CI Plus LLP would TV Key ™ indicate that they are in the process Interest in CI+ 2.0 has been picking of taking steps to formally ratify the up over the past 12 months, largely CI Plus 2.0 standard. CI Plus 2.0 Place In The suppliers, or margins to integrate Market DRM solutions into their platforms. So, is the future bright for CI+ 2.0 or They are then able to have a product will it lose out to proprietary ofering that, with the addition of a standards such as TVKey ™, or the, CI Plus 2.0 CAM, enables user to so far unmentioned, elephant in the experience IP delivered 4K content. room, DRM? The lowfcost TV manufacturers don’t have to worry about the complex The traditional operator market has security requirements as it is all been disrupted by IP based services taken care of by the CI Plus 2.0 CAM such as Netfix, Amazon, and similar and MPEG SoC. There is still a OTT video suppliers, all of whom use signifcant demand for low cost DRM to protect their valuable supermarket branded TVs, so it is a content. In the early days DRM was not insignifcant market for CI Plus purely software based and compared 2.0. to tradition CA, not that secure. That said, being an IP based system, you Furthermore, there is still a place for always had the added beneft of CI Plus 2.0 in the Operator market. IP knowing what anyone using the services such as Netfix, and Amazon service was watching at any given Prime, are gaining increased market time. Over time though, DRM share, and many traditional systems such as Playready, Operators now ofer OTT services. Widevine, etc., have all developed Those services fall into two and today support all the features categories, onfdemand and catchfup required to protect 4K content content that complements the including a hardware root of trust, Operators core broadcast services, using a secure video path, etc. and a separate dedicated IP service Moreover, thanks to the Common ofering, designed to target Encryption (CENC) standard, it is customers that don’t want to sign up possible to encrypt content once, to long term, expensive agreements send it to multiple devices, and and are attracted by the Netfix enable it to be decrypted by a range model of low cost, no tiefin, rolling of diferent vendors DRM solutions, monthly contracts. In the IP world CI so true interoperability. Plus 2.0 has a roll to play with lowf cost TV. In addition, there are still So, on the surface CI Plus 2.0, large parts of the world that don’t doesn’t appear to have any have good IP infrastructure, and rely advantages over DRM. However, on broadcast delivery for their TV what CI Plus 2.0 does enable is for services, but would be interested in lowfcost TV manufacturers, who a payfasfyoufgo model. Currently don’t have the internal software Operators have no way of engaging expertise, relationship with the DRM with this part of the market as they Finally, there is also a place for CI+ are not willing to supply expensive 2.0 in the FreefTofAir market, STB equipment if the consumer is although that may sound counterf going to cancel after 3 months. intuitive. As 4K becomes more However, if a consumer is able to go widespread, traditional FTA out and buy a CI Plus 2.0 CAM that broadcasters will want to ofer it to can be easily connected to a the consumers, so as not to lose conventional TV or STB and provides market share to PayfTV and IP consumers with access to additional services. However, but they will not PayTV channels for a minimal onefof be able to transmit 4K content inf payment for the CAM, followed by a thefclear. Accordingly, the service low cost, rolling monthly fee, then will need to be protected in some one would think that there would be manner, and consumers will need a a market for such a service ofering. device to decrypt the transmissions. Indeed, the uptake of Operator It’s not feasible for all commercial based IP service such as Sky’s and Public Service Broadcasters NowTV™, show there is a market for (PSB) to start ofering STBs or similar such an ofering. devices, so a CI Plus 2.0 based solution is the most viable option. Those consumers that want access to UHD FTA content would be required to purchase a CI Plus 2.0 CAM for a onefof fee.

So, the future for CI Plus 2.0 could be bright, but it does require that TV and STB Manufacturers adopt the standard. TV manufacturers are likely to adopt CI Plus 2.0 once silicon chip vendors ofer compliant devices. TV manufacturers are compelled, in Europe at least, to adopt CI Plus in their chassis. If nothing else, CI Plus 2.0 allows the TV manufacturers to use a standard USB socket, already present on all modern TVs, and drop the PCMCIA interface, thus saving money. Moreover, it allows them to have a single worldfwide chassis, rather than something specifcally tailored for the European market, which is cost of the test kit and certifcation another efciency saving. can actually make the business case Accordingly, economics will drive TV unviable and endanger the entire manufacturers to adopt the project. Accordingly, the economics standard. Chip vendors are likely to of the certifcation process ideally make the necessary changes to need reviewing if CI Plus 2.0 is to be support CI+ 2.0 in their STB chips as adopted more widely by smaller well as many do already support CI scale STB manufacturers. plus, even if it’s not widely used, and What About OBS? with some already adopting TV™ So, what does OBS think is the future Key, there is clear interest in of CI Plus 2.0? There is defnitely a supporting a USB form factor CAM. market there for lowfcost TV For STB Manufacturers, again the manufacturers who can’t aford, or USB form factor will help with the don’t have the relationships and margins of STB manufacturers and technical knowfhow to support DRM should help with adoption rates. That in their products and want to ofer said, STB manufacturers face consumers access to UHD IP content. another economic barrier to CI Plus Similarly, CI Plus 2.0 is an enabler for support compared with TV set consumers wanting Netfix style, makers, which is the cost of Payfasfyou go, access to Operator certifcation. Certifcation is content, but don’t have a highfspeed performed by an CI Plus LLP internet connection, and as a means approved test house and it usually of protecting UHD FTA content. In requires manufacturers a couple of addition, we can see that small to attempts to get things completely midfsized operators that can’t aford right and pass a device, which to invest in their own premium STBs manufacturers must budget for. with advanced features, could look Moreover, the 3rd party test kits that to go direct to the consumers device are available to enable with a CI Plus 2.0 CAM solution. Add manufacturers to use during product to that, that it is highly likely TV development and maximise their manufacturers will switch to the chances of passing formal standard, purely for the economic certifcation are not cheap. TV benefts it provides, then CI Plus 2.0 manufacturers can amortise these will defnitely have a place in the costs over hundreds of thousands, if market. not millions, of devices they produce OBS has been a longfterm supporter in total. For smaller STB of CI Plus, developing and advancing manufacturers looking to produce a its CI Plus Host stack as the standard few tens of thousands, low margin, evolved. We are already seeing units of CI Plus enabled STBs, the revived interest from our customer base in a CI Plus 2.0 solution and we For further information please will look to be ready to support contact device manufacturers with a CI Plus [email protected]. 2.0 enabled Host stack.