MultiStream CableCards Get Going


CableLabs has announced a new testing initiative that will make multistream CableCARD (M-Card) a near term commercial reality. The M-Card will allow consumers to get digital cable services without the need for a special set top box, and will address some of the shortcomings of the first generation cable cards, which have failed to impress in the marketplace.

The M-Card interface will allow multiple digital video streams to be decrypted simultaneously, even on unidirectional devices. Thus, a cable subscriber using an M-Card-enabled “Plug and Play” device can view one cable channel, while recording another. It is expected that DVR type devices will be the first to make use of the new multi-stream interface.

Not everyone in the Cable industry is thrilled about this development, reports Cable Digital News.

Rather than doling out expensive security cards for video devices that consumers purchase at retail, MSOs prefer downloadable conditional access systems (DCAS). Not only would a software-based solution be cheaper for cable operators to install and manage, MSO engineers contend that DCAS is more secure because it allows a compromised access technology to be quickly patched or replaced.



As John Thacker stated, the TiVo Series 3 does have 2 first generation CableCARD slots, and the M-Card is backwards compatible. However, TiVo’s current Series 3 box does not take advantage of the multistream function in the boxes I’ve installed, and still require the sub to obtain and lease 2 separate CableCARDs, be it the old or new…
So TiVo still loses, unless you don’t mind the extremely expensive cost of the set-top box itself and the lease of 2 cards…
TV is getting more and more expensive by the day…

Ted Avery

Comcast been installing these for the past several months. The cable guy came to my house to fix my net connection last Friday and said he was off to install another one of them. It looked just like a pc card to me but it goes directly into the television.

John Thacker

Wonder what this means for TiVo series 3 purchasers?

Well, TiVo Series 3 has two first gen CableCard slots in order to allow two streams at once. This would simply allow the use of a single M-Card instead of two CableCards.

TiVo Series 3 purchasers wouldn’t be screwed, but certainly I would expect TiVo to move towards adopting support for this as well. (Though, would they drop the dual CableCard feature, considering that not every cable company might get M-Cards working at the start?)

Wes Felter

Wait for CableCard… no, wait for M-Card… no, wait for two-way CableCard… no, really, this time we’ll get it right with DCAS! This whole thing is nothing more than a political game; unfortunately I have no positive suggestions.


Wonder what this means for TiVo series 3 purchasers? $799 + subs for a box that may not support the new interface? Ugh.

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