News

Jargon Watch: DECT and DECE

6/13/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

These days, it’s difficult to run into an acronym that doesn’t have the letter “d” in it. Seems every picture, movie and song in our lives is either digital or downloadable.

This week’s translation adds two such acronyms to your summertime gibberish descrambler: “DECT” and “DECE.”

Know going in that they’re completely unrelated, except for that leading “d.”

DECT stands for “Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone.” Conversationally, people tend to append “phone” at the end: “DECT phone.” (And they say “DECT” as “decked.”)

DECT-speak usually travels near the residential phone offerings of AT&T and Verizon Communications. Verizon’s “Hub,” for instance, falls into the umbrella category of DECTs. What it is: A souped-up phone, with a decent display and a broadband connection. DECT started out as a base station to connect multiple cordless phones around the house, then grew into a widget-based way to do specific Internet-y tasks, like get the weather or send a note.

The cable intersection with DECT lives in the PacketCable Multimedia group, within CableLabs. Initially, it’s about getting HD voice into the service mix. This is a good thing. HD voice is noticeably clearer, especially for those of us who spend too much time with earbuds.

Buy Once, Play Anywhere

Then there’s DECE, which stands for “Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem.” It’s a cross-industry consortium of all the big names in digital media — except one. We’ll come back to that.

DECE members include Comcast, Fox Entertainment Group, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, Samsung, Sony, Warner Bros. and Widevine Technologies, among 30 or so other heavy hitters.

What do retailers, cable operators, content owners, movie studios and DRM suppliers have in common? The need for an online rights clearinghouse: Something that connects all the dots for consumers to buy a digital title once, and play it anywhere, legally.

The term “digital locker” usually hovers near DECE conversations, meaning a person’s repository of digital stuff. (Bonus: Digital lockers can’t smell like sweaty socks.)

Cable proponents like DECE for its electronic sell-through potential. It goes like this: You buy a title, online, from your favorite retailer. Next time you turn on the tube, it’s there, in your cable VOD library — which happens to be connected to the biggest and prettiest of your display screens.

DECE detractors say that “play anywhere” probably means “play in some places, not others,” and worry about the noticeably absent player.

Which brings us to Apple. Not a DECE member. DECE is about finding a nonproprietary way for people to use the digital stuff they buy. Apple is notoriously proprietary. This means that the stuff in the iTunes folders can’t sit in any DECE-based digital rights lockers. Nor can DECE-protected content run on Apple’s gadget trove.

That’s the basics on DECT and DECE. Always good to have a few new four-letter acronyms at the ready.

Stumped by gibberish? Visit Leslie Ellis at www.translation-please.com.

September