UK: BT encrypts satellite transport to combat piracy

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Image source: BT – ATEME

British Telecom announced that it now encrypts premium video programming that is transmitted over satellite. Video is encrypted using ATEME video encoders, which use Basic Interoperable Scrambling System Conditional Access (BISS-CA) protocol technology, to help reduce the likelihood that video content would be in a usable form if it is stolen in the process of transport and uplink.

BT has been using ATEME’s encoders for sporting events since August 2019, and has been using it to protect BT Sports’ Premier League live broadcasts since then.

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Co-developed between ATEME, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and Nevion, BISS-CA (the EBU Tech 3292 specification) implements AES-128 for session word encryption and DVB-CISSA for stream scrambling, such that rights can be granted or revoked in realtime; with key changes every ten seconds. Public keys can be distributed during an event or beforehand. Private keys are distributed within the video stream.

Read the original BT news release

Why it matters

It’s unusual to hear public key encryption positioned as a piracy reduction tool. But Conditional Access used to secure distribution for MPEG content, DRM for streaming content, watermarking to identify the content’s origin, distribution and consumption chain, monitoring to verify that the content is where it has the rights to be, and other techniques; all complement one another in a complete anti-piracy technology framework. Securing content in transport is an important additional safeguard. In an ideal world, none of this should be thought of as being optional.

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