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TEST REPORT Card Sharing

Wireless SmartWi
Pay TV reception with a black plastic cover. Thanks
to the new antenna, interference
A close-up with the cover
removed shows the antenna:

all over the house

is now almost a thing of the past
the U-shaped conductor on
because no more radiation can
the right side which uses the
enter the receiver.
whole length of the card in
the new version 8
The outward appearance of
Picture this: you have one pay TV subscription but several TV sets the control unit has remained
spread all across the house. In the past there were three ways to dis- unchanged. On the inside, how-
tribute pay TV to more then one TV: you either had to lay a dedicated ever, a lot has been amended. SmartWi box can be installed and
cable to each TV set and this way set up your own private cable network, Firstly, the unit is now USB 2.0 configured in the usual Plug&Play
or you had to use small radio transmitters which distribute the channel compatible, and secondly, the way, which makes it rather easy
to all rooms, or you simply added any number of subscriptions to make transmission and reception to install the required driver and
sure everybody in your family can watch the pay channel they want. capabilities have been vastly to open the programming tool.
However, options 1 and 2 mean that the same channel has to be watched improved. Like for the previous
by everyone in the house, and option 3 is only available for those willing model the power supply comes The software update only
to spend money on several subscriptions month by month. from the PC's USB interface, yet takes some seconds and the
an additional external power pack next step is the personalisation
is also included. of the individual reception cards,
which is one of the most crucial
The old SmartWi In direct comparison, the new steps in the process because
card had an antenna and improved model features very otherwise everybody within the
which partially sturdy reception cards which have range of the control unit would
radiated into the lost their delicate touch that gave have access to pay TV channels
receiver and thus rise to some concern in the first – at least in theory, assuming all
could cause inter- version, and the overall workman- those unauthorised users have
ference with some ship gives a very positive impres- the same technical equipment.
receiver models. sion. The manufacturer offers a SmartWi without personalised
whole range of software on its cards is much the same as an
website at, unprotected WLAN network. To
Danish company SmartWi has a total of seven different recep- ranging from a firmware update for personalise the system, each
looked at this dilemma and has tion cards, four of which can be the control unit or the appropriate card is briefly inserted so that
come up with a simple yet ingen- active at the same time. Compli- PC applications to the download both ends can exchange a unique
ious solution to this problem. The ance with the ISO 7816 standard of the instruction manual. There identification code. The other
pay TV smartcard is inserted into is guaranteed and the manufac- is even a dedicated support forum benefit of this process is that two
an external card reader which at turer says an indoor distribution for users and a support technician different SmartWi systems do
the same time is a radio transmit- range of at least 15 m can be of SmartWi is available for expert not interfere with each other.
ter. Special cards with a recep- achieved. There is no indication advice.
tion antenna are then inserted regarding outdoor range, but In case the encryption system
into the slots of all receivers in
the house. If somebody selects
we assume 150 m or even more
should be possible.
Everyday use and/or the individual receivers
require the correct ATR code to
Before the SmartWi box is be available directly on the card,
an encrypted pay TV channel
ready to use it has to be equipped this code can be read out from
on their individual receiver the TELE-satellite presented this
with the necessary firmware. On the original card by the control
required key is requested by the clever solution some time ago,
its website the manufacturer unit and then transmitted to all
receiver from the original smart- but SmartWi has not rested on its
offers two different types which active reception cards. In order
card in the external reader. The laurels in the meantime and has support the Irdeto, Viaccess, to set this up the original card
reader then transmits the valid been working to further improve Conax, Cryptoworks, Nagravision has to be briefly inserted into
key back to the reception card in the system. Even back then both and Seca Mediaguard encryption the control unit, followed by all
the receiver and the requested the manufacturer and TELE-sat- systems. The control unit is the reception cards. The box takes
channel is shown on the TV. ellite received overwhelmingly size of a pack of cigarettes and care of the rest. For our practi-
Sounds complicated? Maybe, but positive feedback from our read- features the USB interface for cal test we used the smartcard
it works perfectly in a matter of ers, and the new version 8 offers establishing a connection with of a German pay TV provider in
milliseconds. an improved transmitter/recep- the PC, as well as the plug for connection with an Alphacrypt
tion unit on the cards, a PCB the external power pack, a status CI, a Cryptoworks card of Aus-
This system does not only work antenna and an additional protec- LED and of course the core of trian public broadcaster ORF and
with one or two cards, but with tion of the sensitive electronics the system, the card reader. The a Viaccess erotics smartcard with

The power pack, the control unit and three

SmartWi cards (only one shown)
are included in the package

TELE-satellite International —

a Viaccess CI.. The control unit current CI modules. While inter-
detected all three original cards nal card readers are also sup-
flawlessly and within moments ported in general, there is slightly
all available pay TV channels less perfection with these when
could be individually selected and compared to CI modules.
watched on all receivers within
the SmartWi system, all this with The SmartWi website offers a
only one smartcard for each pay small tool for ambitious users and
TV provider. experts, which shows information
regarding the currently used pay
In our test setup, all receivers TV smartcard and the complete
were located in the same room, transmission/reception system.
which is a rather unrealistic sce- This way possible problems can
nario in the real world. So we went be detected and solved at an
out and set up the whole system early stage. In addition there is
in the house of one of our edito- another free application available
rial staff. We tested the SmartWi which can be used to perform a
system in different spots in the timing test. Generally, the inter-
house from the basement hobby nal card reader of a receiver or
room to the children's room in the CI module needs to access
the loft and were impressed with the smartcard every ten seconds
the results. Thanks to the control in order to be able to present a
unit which was placed in the living selected pay TV channel error-
room we were able to supply pay free. Calculating the keys in the
TV all over the house. The 15 m CI module according to the infor-
range given by the manufacturer mation received via satellite may
is a safe estimate on the lower take up to two seconds. If several
side of the maximum distance reception cards are in use at the
between control unit and recep- same time it becomes obvious
tion cards, and even reinforced that the system may sooner or
concrete walls could not stop the later reach its limits. This is all
radio waves. the more risky if a digital receiver
requests the keys every four sec-
According to the manufacturer onds, for example, instead of the
up to four reception cards can be usual ten seconds. The timing tool
used simultaneously. While we is used to exactly measure these
cannot confirm this claim as only request times and depending
three cards came with our test on the receivers' requirements,
unit, we can nonetheless tes- it can be established whether
tify that these three cards work indeed up to four reception cards
perfectly when used at the same can be used simultaneously or
time. Our test also confirmed that whether two cards are the maxi-
the system is compatible with all mum. If you still use the maxi-
mum number of cards in such a

TECHNIC scenario, all four receivers may

show decoding errors.
Manufacturer SmartWi, Denmark
Fax +45 86406622
Model Wireless SmartWi, version 8
Function Card splitter with wireless radio transmission
Radio frequency ISO 7816 Standard
Range Inside >15m, outside n.a.
Maximum number of reception cards 7 (4 of which active)
Simultaneously available channels 4
Power supply Master max. 100mA, clients max. 50mA
Firmware upgrade possible yes
Dimension 90x57x23mm

Expert conclusion
The radio connection between the card reader and
the reception cards works flawlessly even over larger
distances. This means that a connection between the
control unit and several receives can easily be estab-
lished in single-family house. Thanks to the personali-
sation of each card unauthorised access from outside Thomas Haring
is efficiently blocked. The workmanship of both the TELE-satellite
Test Center
card reader and the reception cards is very good. Austria

Some receivers with an integrated card reader sometimes experience
problems with the reception cards. A software update should easily be
able to solve this problem, however.