Charter Lights Data Centers for Downloadable Security

Charter Communications shed a bit more light on its downloadable security system, telling the FCC in a filing last week that it had completed two national centralized data centers to support the new platform.

Charter will be deploying the downloadable security platform in tandem with the rollout of the new IP-capable “Worldbox,” and has been rolling it out in dual-security boxes that supports an integrated form of Charter’s legacy security systems as well as the new version.

Charter deployed those dual-security boxes under an FCC waiver that expired at the end of 2015, and told the FCC last week that it was supporting 2.77 million set-tops with integrated security that were covered by that waiver. The FCC’s ban on integrated security boxes ended on Dec. 4, 2015, and is preparing to vote on a new set of set-top box rules.

“Charter commenced its deployments of a new downloadable Worldbox in 2015 and is readying deployment of Worldbox in markets throughout its footprint,” the MSO told the FCC in the filing, calling it a “closing declaration certifying its deployment of a downloadable security system.”

Speaking on Charter’s Q3 2015 call last fall, company president and CEO Tom Rutledge said the MSO was initiating deployments of its new cloud-based Spectrum guide and the Worldbox in St. Louis, Mo., and in Reno, Nev., adding that the MSO was about six weeks behind its original rollout schedule as it ironed out software issues. Humax and Cisco Systems are the known suppliers of the Worldbox (Technicolor acquired Cisco’s set-top box business last year).

Charter’s expected to provide an update on the rollout when it reports Q4 results on Thursday (February 4).

Though one aim of using boxes with downloadable security is to reduce the costs of the devices, Charter customers are not able to lease those devices at lower costs than the fees for Charter’s legacy set-tops, at least not in the early phases of deployment. “Lease charges for downloadable Worldboxes and for CableCARD-enabled set-top boxes are derived from a common equipment basket and are therefore the same,” Charter told the FCC.

Per the conditions of waiver granted by the FCC in April 2013, Charter said discussions with “a consumer electronics manufacturer are continuing,” and that the focus is on an app-based approach for service delivery, similar to Charter’s TV apps for iOS, Android, amazon Kindle and, moset recently, on Roku retail devices. Charter hasn’t announced that CE partner, but the MSO and TiVo have been in talks about a retail solution that would use Charter’s new downloadable security platform.

Charter said it met the public interest condition of making broadband service of 100 Mbps or greater available to 200,000 additional homes ahead of schedule, and is closing in on the completion of its digital conversion, noting that 99% of its subs have converted to all-digital.