Satellite Security (1980)

By Allen Davis, Home Box Office

I doubt very much if any of us really want to see satellite security ever become a requirement, with the possible exception of the manufacturers presently engaged in developing such a system. I have spent several months of time and traveled thousands of miles talking to various companies and individuals who are interested in providing equipment to secure satellite feeds. It is not surprising that while many people are engaged in research and development in this field that they are all following one of perhaps three or four paths. We'll discuss some of these systems a little later.

There are, of course, problems created with having to secure satellite transmissions, such as the logistics of supplying decoders fast enough, (remembering that earth stations are being installed every day), so that the network can pick a date for commencement of scrambling without someone being unable to receive the transmission due to the lack of a much needed decoder. This decoder which is placed right after the earth station receiver, places another link in the transmission and reception chain. In other words, it's something else to go wrong. Recognizing this problem we must now find a way of overcoming it. If we have to have a redundant decoder the price doubles, if we don't and a CATV system, for whatever reason, has a decoder failure, then either the affiliate will lose their pay service until the problem is rectified or the only other choice would be to unscramble the entire network. As you can see this would be more or less self-defeating.

While all the problems could be troublesome they can be overcome by careful planning and emergency procedures adopted. Unfortunately, these questions cannot be answered right now.

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