Long reads

Q&A: Kjell Carlswärd, CEO, Cryptoguard

Sweden-based conditional access specialist Cryptoguard has developed a range of solutions that are designed to enable smaller operators to deliver the same range of services as their large-scale counterparts, as CEO Kjell Carlswärd explained to Digital TV Europe.

How do the content security needs of small-scale service providers typically differ from those with larger customer bases?
Generally I do not see the needs of smaller operators being different than those of big operators. The problem seems rather to be that the small operators may not have the financial strength to invest in their own CAS. Our business model has been a success for small operators choosing Cryptoguard’s CAS, since we have a unique custom pricing model, which means that all operators can afford to make the investment. The decision path is shorter for a small operator and new technology can therefore be launched quickly in those nets. Actually, if the big operators have just one advantage against the small players, it is that they have their own marketing departments, and so can profile new features in its network professionally. But again, the small operators are incredibly important to us. And we hope they see us as important to them. Many smaller operators who have chosen our solution often have more features – NVOD, OTT, VOD – than the big operators, and, indeed, at a very attractive price. What we do not develop ourselves, we can provide through several extremely talented middleware companies with which we have established cooperation. We provide the operator with an eco-system containing box, CAS and smartcard and also, really importantly, our own-created SMS. We also have a cardless system that some operators want, although I am of the opinion that it is best to separate the security keys from the chip in the box. In addition it is actually a commercial for the operator to use cards, even if inexperienced operators think otherwise.

How significant is demand for pre-paid solutions? Is this a growing market and, if so, in which regions and what is driving this?
Prepaid solutions are an option that we offer. We have already launched, four years ago, CryptoLITE, which was offered not only in developing countries but also in Sweden to very small networks where a server is not used. We have created software for different headends so no server is needed. Another market where prepaid solutions are interesting is point-to-point satellite transmission.

Do you believe that the separation of network infrastructure provider from service provider – with multiple service providers operating over the same network – is likely to be a growing trend? If so, what is driving this?

Yes, we experience that today. We have patented a unique solution, CryptoMulti, which allows multiple service operators in the same network to manage the end user’s smartcard. What we often heard earlier from cable operators using QAM techniques is that there is limited frequency and therefore that they can’t offer more space to more service providers. In IP networks, this works easily and when we took on this QAM problem, we developed a technique that in fact really can handle it. Today, therefore, a network owner can take a role akin to a communications provider, and rent out his network to multiple service providers if Cryptoguard CAS is used, whether it’s an IP network, QAM network or both.

To what extent is it possible for different service providers to share a common infrastructure while differentiating their offerings? What common forms of differentiation could you envisage, if any?
As I said there is no restriction in this any more, if subscribers use one Cryptoguard card. Then, the subscriber can be a customer to one or more service providers at any time, or choose from among several service providers. You could have one provider of family films, or another that has unique sports programming for example. Everything is controlled by the same smartcard, using the same server of each of the operators.

How significant is the market in the Middle East for the solutions you offer?
The Middle East is interested in the latest technology. We have security solutions for OTT, which is a market that has grown very quickly. But other markets are important to us. Content providers have increased their demand for secure transmission of content. We’re proud of our state-of-the-art CW fingerprinting technology to detect card sharing networks to the individual subscriber level. We also send different CWs to all smartcards.

Cryptoguard is a Swedish conditional access system provider, founded 2007. It delivers its CA system to over 110 operators in Sweden and several other countries. Cryptoguard is focusing on new markets in eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. Cryptoguard CAS can be used in terrestrial, satellite, cable, IP or hybrid networks.