Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Major U.S. Cable Operators Agree on 2-Way Platforms

Sony Electronics and the six largest U.S. cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishing the fundamentals for a competitive retail market for "two-way" digital cable-ready devices. The agreement addresses how such products will be brought to market with interactive services like video-on-demand, digital video recording and interactive programming guides. In addition, the agreement makes it clear that consumers will be able to enjoy a choice of differentiated two-way products at retail and through cable operators from a variety of consumer electronics and information technology manufacturers. The agreement includes safeguards to facilitate the development of a robust, two-way retail market and to ensure that cable operators can continue to develop and offer new competitive services.

Together, the six cable operators pass over 105 million U.S. homes and serve more than 82 percent of all U.S. cable subscribers.

The companies envision an open market where consumers can purchase "two-way" digital televisions and other devices that can receive interactive digital and high-definition video services without a set-top box.

As part of the agreement, the parties will adopt: the Java-based "tru2way" solution as the national interactive "plug-and-play" standard; new streamlined technology licenses; and new ways for content providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, information technology companies and cable operators to cooperate in evolving the tru2way technology at Cable Television Laboratories (CableLabs), the cable industry's research and development consortium.

Furthermore the companies expect the agreement will encourage the development and distribution of interactive and high-value digital content. Key elements of the agreement relate to the deployment of a platform for "write once, run anywhere" applications, and to the incorporation of secure digital interfaces that protect consumers' home recording rights along with copyright owners' rights to secure their digital content. Detailed terms of the MOU have not yet been released, while other potential signatories complete their review of the document.

"This is a landmark agreement which will provide a national, open and interactive platform resulting in more choices of services and products for consumers," said Kyle McSlarrow, NCTA President & CEO.

"We are pleased that this technical challenge has been addressed through a voluntary, private-sector solution," said Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro. "We look forward to working with our cable colleagues to ensure Americans across the country have access to high value cable content while using the equipment of their choosing."http://www.ncta.com/http://www.cablelabs.com