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Your Cable Show Jargon Descrambler

Whether you call it “TV Everywhere,” or “The Four Anys” (anything, anywhere, anytime, any device), IP video, or cable over IP, a lot of what we’ll see and hear at this week’s Cable Show in Chicago is about where cable goes next: Other screens, beyond the TV.

So yes, you’re going to see a lot of video on non-traditional displays: Tablets, lots of tablets, and smart phones, and PCs. And yes, you’ve seen that before. What’s different, and what will continue to be different, is the plumbing underneath.

All together now: It’s IP. Internet Protocol. (Which is different than “the Internet.”)

Why does this matter? Because we’re moving to a world where stuff can be done without set-top boxes, at least as they exist in hardware. Now, it’s set-tops; next, it’s gateways that bridge between set-tops and cable modems, and ultimately, it’s video delivered completely over IP, from the network, to the end devices.

Because of that, the industry can’t exactly call the shots anymore, in terms of how things do or don’t interact with that set-top box. This may make you cry out in delight, or it might make you twist a napkin into shreds.

Either way, in a world where other forces call the shots, it’s important to glom onto the most pervasive batch of open standards.

Which is why, at this week’s show, if you happen to peer under the hood of just about anything, you’ll probably run into one, if not all, of these terms: MoCA, DLNA, DTCP-IP, “the DRMs,” HTML5. (Maybe a little SAML, here and there.)

A quick refresher:

MoCA: MultiMedia over Coax Alliance. It describes how to put the bits on the coaxial wires already inside homes, to connect everything up. Good for flinging multiple HD streams around the house.

DLNA: Digital Living Network Alliance: It tells each connectable device how to describe itself, iconically. I’m a PC, my icon is this; I’m a tablet, my icon is this.

DTCP-IP: Digital Transmission Copy Protection over Internet Protocol. Security, in the form of copy protection, for those IP-connected, video-hungry screens.

DRM: Digital Rights Management. Security for the video asset, as opposed to security for “the ride” over the pipes.

HTML-5: Hypertext Markup Language version 5. A way to render the user interface on those other connected screens.

As for SAML (pronounced as a word that rhymes with camel) - it stands for Security Assertion Markup Language, and it’s about single sign on. So that when you surf from one video source to another, you don’t have to log in all over again.

Go take a look at Neustar Media (booth ES-67) for a good example of SAML in action. Why: Because they’ve figured out the “everywhere” part of TV Everywhere, at least for movies and episodic/on-demand television.

See you in the Windy City!

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