Embedded Common Interface

PayTV operators have established digital TV platforms which implement standards for basic functions, and extend these functions with proprietary elements. Most Conditional Access (CA) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems used for classical digital broadcasting, IPTV or new over-the-top services capture consumer equipment by binding it with proprietary security-related elements.

So equipment configured for use in one network or platform cannot be used in another. Such ‘Lock-in’ effects restrict the freedom of many players in digital multimedia content markets.

In addition, specifications differ not only by country, but also by platform. The result is a fragmented consumer electronics market for digital TV.

A standardized environment for embedded exchangeable CA/DRM systems is needed urgently to support the rapid worldwide growth in content distribution, the development of multimedia content distribution via broadcast and broadband and the increasing use of tablets and smart phones for multimedia content.

Service and content protection – the role of CA and DRM

Services and content are protected by Conditional Access and Digital Rights Management.

  • CA focuses on mechanisms to access protected content distributed by a service provider over a network.
  • DRM describes the type and extent of the usage rights, according to the subscriber’s contract.

The group has been closed in July 2018 after termination of the work.

Our Industry Specification Group on Embedded Common Interface (ECI) for exchangeable Conditional Access (CA)/Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions (ISG ECI) produced specifications for content protection. Specifically, we developed a standardized system architecture for general purpose, software-based, embedded and exchangeable CA/DRM systems.

Our goal was to make it possible for consumers to continue using equipment and content they have previously paid for, after a move or a change of network provider, or to access content from multiple service providers from the same device.

By doing this, we aimed to provide the most appropriate and future-proof solution to overcome market fragmentation and enable interoperability.

Key benefits of our approach to the creation of an ECI include:

  • flexibility and scalability
  • exchangeability
  • applicability to content distributed via broadcast and broadband (including over-the-top services)
  • support for a multi-screen environment
  • open market access

We are developed specifications for:

  • the framework for an ECI for exchangeable CA/DRM solutions
  • system validation
  • test cases

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search.