What is a smart card?

You cannot receive pay-TV or private TV channels in HD quality free of charge. But if you pay for pay-TV and sharper pictures, many providers will give you a card – the so-called smart card. You can use this to unlock the channels that you have booked. In this article you will learn exactly what the smart card is and how it works.

This is a smart card and this is how it works

A smart card looks similar to an EC card. It is the same size and has a metallic module, as SIM cards also contain. Inside is a chip. With the smart card you can watch digital TV or radio channels decrypt. To do this, insert the card into your television or receiver (to receive channels in HD, an HD receiver). If these devices do not have an interface for smart cards, you can use a so-called CI+ module as an adapter.

If the card is in the device, you can, for example, watch private TV stations in HD quality receive or Pay TV use – if you have booked this. The reason for this is that digital HD channels and pay TV channels are usually broadcast free via satellite, antenna or cable, but they are encrypted. Only those who pay the provider for it can decode the channels. The provider will then send you a smart card. As soon as you have activated this, you can use the additional TV offer.

If your smart card is not activated for a station, you will receive such a message.


Via the Internet even without a smart card

Providers here are, for example, pay channels such as Sky or cable providers such as Kabel Deutschland or Vodafone. In some cases, you don’t even need a smart card: modern smart TVs that are connected to the Internet can activate the paid offers in other ways. You can often use a USB stick or an app for this.

Installation of the smart card

If your smart card is unlocked and activated, you can install it in your television. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Insert the subscription card correctly into the CAM holder, the metal module. Make sure the CAM is with the brand label facing up and the smart card is with the chip facing up. Insert the smart card chip into the CAM before inserting it into the CI slot on your TV.
  • Turn off your TV and insert the CAM adapter into the TV’s CI slot (with the CAM brand label facing away from the TV). Be careful not to use too much force. If the mount does not slide in easily, you may have held it the wrong way round.
  • Turn the TV back on. The CAM should be recognized automatically.
  • With CI+, the CAM must be initialized before use. A progress bar will appear on the screen for a few minutes, or progress messages will appear indicating the status of the initialization process. The message may disappear and reappear a few times until the process is complete.

Smart cards for access control

Smart cards are not only used for televisions. They are also used, for example, to regulate access control in larger companies. Employees have such a card to identify themselves and, for example, to gain access to buildings or rooms.


More on the subject:


  • How do I turn my TV into a Smart TV?
  • Watch TV via the Fritzbox – that’s what you need
  • Connect laptop and TV via WiFi

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