On Wednesday, Samsung Electronics became the first company to sign an agreement with CableLabs for retail consumer electronics devices that will use downloadable conditional access system (CAS) technology. Downloadable CAS offers a cost effective, cable company agnostic, solution for interactive, two-way devices that connect to cable systems, and cable operators have long advocated CAS over the CableCARDS that are currently in use. Downloadable CAS allows the cable operator to download its own particular conditional access system of choice to devices connected to the cable network. "Samsung’s pioneering work with downloadable CAS demonstrates that it is a cost-effective solution for retail as well as leased set-tops. We look forward to continuing to work with Samsung on downloadable CAS and other innovations," said David Fellows, EVP and CTO for Comcast Cable Communications, in a press release. Downloadable CAS is designed to operate with interactive cable set-top boxes as well as integrated DTVs and other retail devices that include a special chip. IPTV Still a Hot Topic with Research Groups Research and Markets , which is based in Dublin, Ireland, said in a recent report that France will lead the way in 2009 with 2.4 million IPTV subscribers while the total number of European IPTV subs increased by 66 percent in the first half of this year. Research and Markets predict that over the next five years IPTV growths rates will have a significant impact on most European pay TV markets. Closer to home, Cambridge-based Pyramid Research said in its report that IPTV is more about selling broadband than about selling TV services. The report postulated that telcos are better off being leaders in the broadband space than novices in the pay TV markets. "IPTV is not a sliver bullet for telcos, but service bundling is, and IPTV is the missing piece of the bundling puzzle," said Pyramid Research Senior Analyst Ozgur Aytar, who must have missed out on the IPTV video-frenzy at TelcoTV last month. Research Group Bullish on VOD According to sister publication CableFAX, Informa, a European research group, predicted that VOD will bring in $10.7 billion in worldwide revenue by 2010. North America is projected to account for 44 percent of that figure; Europe is predicted to account for 42 percent. Though it’s only expected to bring in a fraction of VOD revenue, the Asia-Pacific region will have the most homes, the group said. "Within a few years, subscribers will be migrated to paid content, and then significant revenues will be generated," said the report’s author Simon Dyson. More predictions: One-third of TV homes (350 million) will have access to VOD/NVOD services in 2010. The U.S. market will account for 103 million of those homes.