Comcast is entering into a billion dollar deal with Motorola in the largest set-top box agreement in the history of the cable company. The two companies will also form two joint ventures focused on next-generation conditional access technologies.

The set-top commitment will extend an existing multi-year agreement for Comcast to purchase set-tops and network equipment from Motorola. It will cover entry-level models to high-definition digital video recorders.

“This partnership with an industry leader like Motorola will help us to continue to aggressively advance our interactive digital platform and more rapidly develop and deploy video products,” said Steve Burke, chief operating officer of Comcast.

The new joint ventures will focus on the development and licensing of current and future conditional access and other cable technologies.

As part of the agreement, Motorola has granted the ventures a non-exclusive license for MediaCipher, its leading conditional access technology.

The first joint venture, to be managed jointly by the two companies, will focus primarily on development of a next-generation conditional access system, using MediaCipher as its foundation.

The second joint venture, led by Comcast, will focus on licensing conditional access and other cable technologies including MediaCipher to other cable operators and third-party providers.

Comcast said this is part of their continued focus on the development of industry-wide specifications for key components of set-top boxes, including conditional access systems, interactive program guides and middleware. The partnership aims to reinforce cable’s position in the market, which is being threatened by satellite operators on the one hand and next generation telco networks on the other.

“By extending our relationship with Comcast for conditional access and set-tops, we continue to drive innovation for advanced digital cable services,” said Dan Moloney of Motorola.

The joint venture agreements are expected to be completed within the coming months.