TV viewers to 'pay per time'

Smart card solutions provider Irdeto Access has launched its pay-per-time smart card in the Middle East. The card, which is already popular in Europe and Africa, will save operators the cost of managing subscribers.

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By  Vijaya Cherian Published  October 2, 2003

Smart card solutions provider Irdeto Access has launched its pay-per-time smart card in the Middle East. The card, which is already popular in Europe and Africa, will save operators the cost of managing subscribers.

"We are the first to market this product," says Karim Esseghir, account manager for Irdeto Access, Middle East. "A pay-per-time smart card is like a pre-paid card. You pay for this card and it allows you to watch television. The card has a counter; it counts the amount of time for which you watch television and when your number of hours is up, the card expires."

This technology is based on Irdeto Access' Delta smart card, which is already being used by Middle East operators like Showtime and Arab Digital Distribution. With such a card, operators can set the time limit for a card. "They might want it to be valid only for 50 or 100 hours or they might want to have different cards for different bouquets. This has a lot of potential because you only pay for what you watch," says Esseghir.

Irdeto Acces is also planning the regional launch of multi-view, a smart card that can be connected to two televisions thereby, allowing viewers to see different channels on each television. "For this, the operator can charge a customer for two subscribers - the primary subscription may be full charge, and the secondary, nominal," Esseghir says. He is confident that this technology will be popular in Middle East homes, where people have two televisions.

"This is cost effective, and people don't mind paying for a second subscription if it is nominal. At the same time, parents and children can each watch their own favourite channels," he adds. Since last September, the vendor has also been working to continuously improve the security of its smart cards. "We are not waiting for something to go wrong to improve. Every 18 months, we will have a new card that is backward compatible. If operators use new cards for new subscribers, in the event of a security breach, only some, not all, subscribers will be affected."

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