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Encyclopedia > VideoCipher

VideoCipher is a brand name of analog scrambling equipment for satellite television invented in 1983 by Linkabit systems, which was bought out by MA/COM in 1985. MA/COM was finally bought out by General Instrument in 1987. Currently, Videocipher technology is controlled by Motorola Corporation. Videocipher scrambling usually involves the DES encryption scheme. With the shift to digital satellite transmission, the Videocipher system will possibly be phased out entirely by 2010. General Instrument (GI) was a diversified electronics manufacturer which specialised in semiconductors and cable television equipment. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Motorola (NYSE: MOT) is a United States-based multinational communications company based in Schaumburg, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. ... The Data Encryption Standard (DES) is a cipher (a method for encrypting information) selected as an official Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) for the United States in 1976, and which has subsequently enjoyed widespread use internationally. ... // In cryptography, encryption is the process of obscuring information to make it unreadable without special knowledge. ... A digital system is one that uses discrete values (often electrical voltages), especially those representable as binary numbers, or non-numeric symbols such as letters or icons, for input, processing, transmission, storage, or display, rather than a continuous spectrum of values (ie, as in an analog system). ...



There are several variants of the Videocipher scrambling system:

Videocipher I

This was the first version of the Videocipher system that was first demonstrated by Linkabit in 1983.

Also known as Videocipher IB, this variation on Videocipher was commonly used by sports backhauls. CBS used this system from 1987 to the mid-1990's to encrypt its transmissions to affiliates on the Telstar 301 and Telstar 302 satellites. In Canada, the CTV television network also used this technology on its network feeds. With this system the video is scrambled by means of re-ordering the video scan lines, while all audio remains in the clear. This system has been discontinued in recent years. CBS is derived from an abbreviation of Columbia Broadcasting System, the former legal name of a company Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquired in 1995. ... American communications satellite launched in July 1983 by AT&T. It was one of three Telstar satellites, followed by Telstar 302 in 1984 and Telstar 303 in 1985. ... CTV is Canadas largest privately owned English language television network. ...

This system was initially considered for use by HBO in the 1980's, and was also tested by HBO, but was ultimately rejected in favor of Videocipher II as it was determined that descramblers for home satellite viewers would be required, and the Videocipher I was determined to be too expensive for consumer use.

The Leitch Viewguard scrambling system used for satellite feeds as well used the same video line re-ordering as well, while also leaving the audio intact. ABC and Fox used Viewguard as well on their analog network feeds to their affiliate stations shortly before switching to digital satellite distribution in 2005 (for ABC) and 2004 (for Fox). Leitch Technology Corporation was a Canadian corporation based in Toronto, Ontario specializing in the design and manufacture of equipment for the broadcast television and video post-production industries. ... The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) operates television and radio networks in the United States and is also shown on basic cable in Canada. ... For the animal, see Fox. ...

Videocipher II

This was the first consumer scrambling system. It began testing in 1985 on HBO satellite transponders on Satcom 3R and Galaxy 1 and entered full use in January 1986 by HBO, and within two years was used by a majority of major cable television programmers. However, lapses in its security enabled some cable pirates to modify the descrambler to receive free programming. Beginning in 1991, programmers began to phase out the VCII system in favor of the highly secure Videocipher II Plus (RS) system. The system was fully phased out in 1993. Originally sold as a stand-alone decoder box that consisted of a fully electronic decoder and the actual descrambler module, some satellite system manufacturers began to manufacturer their receivers with the module installed. This system works by encrypting both audio (in digital sound) and video. A Videocipher II decoder is still capable of decoding only the video portion of a Videocipher II Plus. Galaxy 1 was the first in a line of communications satellites launched by Hughes Communications in 1983. ... For other uses, see HBO (disambiguation). ... Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house. ...

Furthermore, in the late eighties and early nineties, VideoCipher II modules that had been pirated, began to receive constant Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) "Keys" which would roll over every month. Later on, keys began to roll constantly for pay per view channels and HBO.

A company called Magna Systems would fax monthly keys to satellite dealers and the dealers would distriubute the keys to their customers. Magna Systems warned that programmers would begin rolling keys every few days.

In response to the increasing frequency of key changes, enterprising pirates devised more efficient means of delivering the new keys to the hacked boxes. Among these contraptions included "VMS" modems which when added to the Videocipher module allowed them to dial into a bulletin board system and download the updated keys. Ward Christensen and the computer that ran the first public Bulletin Board System, CBBS A Bulletin Board System or BBS is a computer system running software that allows users to dial into the system over a phone line and, using a terminal program, perform functions such as downloading software and...

After HBO left the VideoCipher II datastream in favor of the more secure VideoCipher II Plus (RS) datastream, other programmers followed suit. Having a VideoCipher II module was no longer worth anything unless the viewer wanted to watch adult/XXX programming with no audio.

Some viewers who had both cable and satellite found a way to marry audio and video. Viewers found a way to get audio from a cable line and video from satellite with their VideoCipher II and push both to their VCRs and TVs.

Due to the advanced VideoCipher II Plus datastream, video may appear to "flicker" or struggle on an old VideoCipher II module. If the module has a newer pirate chip installed, flickering may or may not be a problem.

Videocipher II+/RS

In 1992, following years of security breaches with the Videocipher II system, the Videocipher II Plus became standard. In 1993, all VCII programming was phased out. This is a higher-security system with two variants. The Videocipher-RS system (RS for Renewable Security) is the Videocipher II Plus system with a slot in the back of the decoder module to where a card could be inserted to upgrade the security if the VCII Plus system were ever breached.

Technological Obsolesence

General Instrument discontinued production of VC II+ RS modules in 1998 in favor of its DigiCipher system. DigiCipher 2, or simply DCII, is the name of the digital signal compression standard used on many communications satellite television and audio signals. ...

  • Some C-band satellite programmers still use this system for their programming, however most broadcasters are in the process of phasing this out for digital delivery.
  • With the shift to digital delivery, the Videocipher system overall will most likely be phased out by 2010.

C band (compromise band) is a portion of electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range of frequencies ranging from 4 to 6 GHz. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Videocipher - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (852 words)
VideoCipher is a brand name of analog scrambling equipment for satellite television invented in 1983 by Linkabit systems, which was bought out by MA/COM in 1985.
Videocipher scrambling usually involves the DES encryption scheme.
This system was initially considered for use by HBO in the 1980's, but was rejected in favor of Videocipher II as it was determined that descramblers for home satellite viewers would be required, and the Videocipher I was determined to be too expensive for consumer use.
Pay TV Systems (7508 words)
Videocipher One (VC-I) is used by CBS and Major League Baseball [6,7,8].
Oak Orion is more like Videocipher except that included in the Oak is an inversion bit (on one of the lines in the vertical interval) that tell the de-scrambler to run normal or inverted video.
The EuroCypher system was developed by the VideoCipher division, a part of General Instrument, as an enhancement of the VideoCipher II It has been used by the British Satellite Broadcasting Ltd from March 1990 until late 1992.
  More results at FactBites »



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