Sunset Law Will Affect Video Distribution… soon
Those of you that have worked with NTI over the past couple of years know that we have attempted to keep you informed about the new Advanced Access Control System Licensing Administrator (AACS LA) regulation, known as the “Sunset Law”. We have been doing so because this regulation will change how you and your clients, guests or visitors use technology within your facility. And the change will happen sooner than many think.
Most of our clients and many who read this newsletter know that this regulation will begin to be enacted in less than 8 months, and will take full effect in 2013. So a relevant question is, why worry about something that won’t take full effect until 2013? The answer is, because beginning next year users of your facility will have compliant laptops and equipment that will not be supported by the technology that is currently in most buildings. Depending on the type of facility, the impact will range from inconvenience to a loss of future revenue.
The impact of the Sunset law will begin soon after December 2010. After that, manufactures will be required to allow ONLY Standard Definition Non-encrypted material to pass through analog outputs for all new model products. That is a picture quality similar to your standard cable TV image. By 2013, the adapters of this licensing cannot have any analog outputs on products sold. However, your clients, guests and visitors are already purchasing the new technology. After this year all new products sold will be the newer technology. So, clients with a new PC or Blu-ray player may not be able to use the connections in a building if the owners have not planned ahead.
Anticipating the coming change, technology oriented companies such as Apple, HP, Dell, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, IBM, Toshiba, and many others have already begun to deliver products over the past several years that no longer even have an analog port on them. If you purchased an Apple Notebook or Mac-book in the past 2 years, chances are that you do not have a traditional VGA port on the unit. This means that there are already people that use your facility who require an HDMI, Display Port, or DVI port on your systems for them to connect within your facility.
Surprisingly, even many within the AV community don’t fully understand the effect these regulations have on places of business. There are many things converging at once which make it very confusing. HDCP, EDID, Sunset Law, DRIM, and other terms can make it unclear whether to address it now or wait until 2013? The reality is, it makes the most sense to address it now.
Examples of the Technical Issue
The three most popular forms of Digital Video Formats are HDMI, Display Port, and DVI. It is worth mentioning that HD-SDI is considered a High Definition Signal type but does not allow for two way communications, which is required for the two way encryption and Electronic Identification process used by today’s equipment. If someone is telling you that they have a solution for your facility, make sure they offer you evidence that the solution will provide for clients, guests and visitors who may arrive with the new technology mandated by The Sunset Law.
Some designers or integrators recommend a Digital Video Interface (DVI) as an excellent solution. While this may be true, it may only work for certain brands of products working together. So if you have a Samsung Blu-ray player and a NEC projector they may work together just fine, but because of the way some companies do their encoding, if you swap out the Samsung for a Sony Blu-ray player, the two units may not work together. Unfortunately, this is not always known upfront and is found out accidentally when incompatible units simply do not operate as expected.
If the recommended solution is using CAT cable or Fiber, make sure your provider verifies that it will work along the entire pathway. When HDMI, DVI, or Display port signals are interrupted it can cause severe problems in signal quality.
Many of these new Digital formats require an understanding of their limitations and compatibility factors. These include distance limitations for how far a signal can travel, the number of pieces of equipment with which it can interface, the types of signals that are compatible with it, and the types of information it can share. This is not a time to leave design to chance.
If you are not yet considering how The Sunset Law may impact your facility, or are being told that you don’t need to deal with it, you will soon find yourself losing functionality, use, compatibility, and possibly even revenue.
Companies such as Sony, Microsoft, Intel, Toshiba, IBM, Panasonic, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Brothers are requiring compliance to this standard. Their products will be 100% compliant within a couple of years. Just about every computer you purchase will be affected by the Microsoft compliance, and just about every piece of electronics has an Intel Chip inside. As early as next year, your clients, guests and visitors will begin bringing this equipment to your facility expecting adequate connectivity.
Addressing the issue now will allow you to tell your clients, guests and visitors, “Yes, we are ready for you to bring us your High-definition business.” Choosing to postpone addressing the effects of The Sunset Law may result in having to tell clients, guests and visitors, “I am sorry we can’t interface with your equipment at this time.”
Don’t let these regulations catch you un-prepared. Verify that your facility is ready. Be sure that there is documentation that supports your systems design, and that there is experience backing up that documentation. It is no longer a matter of if you will be affected. You will be. The real question now is whether you’ll be prepared.
by Allen Schulte, CTS