Humax Enters Charter’s ‘Worldbox’ Orbit

Humax has been selected as a second source for the “Worldbox,” a next-gen class of hybrid QAM/IP video devices from Charter Communications that will support the MSO’s new downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) and its cloud-based interface and applications.

A Charter spokesperson confirmed the selection of Humax, but wouldn’t talk about the financial terms of the agreement or what percentage of Charter’s Worldbox business would be going to the South Korea-based supplier.

But the selection is a clear indicator that Charter intends to source boxes from a variety of suppliers using an “open” downloadable security architecture that is also in use at Cablevision Systems. Samsung Electronics and Humax are among the known vendors Cablevision has picked to supply “Future Services Portal” boxes that utilize its DCAS.

At the International CES earlier this month, Cisco Systems was revealed as the first supplier of the Worldbox, which will initially feature two models -- an HD-DVR and an non-DVR HD client device (the Cisco-made non-DVR model is pictured above). Cisco has been tapped as a “key” supplier of Worldboxes through 2015, providing a “substantial share” of them to Charter, while also supplying the platform’s downloadable conditional access system and digital rights management platform.

Charter hasn’t announced any other Worldbox suppliers. However, Arris hopes to be in the mix, as it will have “equal opportunity to bid on the Worldbox [business], as any other competitor,” Bob Stanzione, Arris’s chairman and CEO, said last week at an investor conference.

 Humax officials have yet to comment for this story, but the selection by Charter obviously gives its U.S. cable ambitions a boost.

Last April, Time Warner Cable announced that it had picked Humax to build the MSO's first device based on the Reference Design Kit (RDK), a preintegrated software stack for video and broadband devices that is being managed by Comcast, TWC, and Liberty Global.  What is not known is how that deal, which centers on an IP-based HD client that can support TWC’s next-gen UI, will carry forward if and when Comcast and TWC complete their proposed merger.

Humax has also been linked to the Xi3, an IP-only, RDK-based client device that Comcast is developing for its X1 platform (a Humax-made model passed through the FCC in 2012). Comcast, however, has been using Xi3s made by U.K.-based Pace for its initial rollout.