CableLabs® Specifies High-Speed Link For OpenCable™ Digital Set-Top Boxes
Louisville, Colorado, March 17, 1998— Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs®) has specified an existing high-speed interconnect called IEEE 1394 as the link between OpenCable™ advanced digital set-top boxes and devices such as television sets and digital video disk players.
OpenCable™ is a CableLabs-managed initiative aimed at developing key interface specifications to foster interoperability among advanced digital set-top boxes built by multiple vendors and used in broadband two-way cable networks.
The 1394 interface is specified in the OpenCable™ purchase orders of CableLabs® member companies for connecting digital devices. One issue that had surrounded the 1394 interface was the lack of a security system for programming that traveled across the interface. A joint effort by the cable and computer industries and the Hollywood studios recently achieved preliminary consensus around key security issues.
"This is a critical element for cable operators because the 1394 interface gives us a cost-effective way to provide our customers with the advanced services central to the OpenCable™ initiative," said Joseph Collins, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable. "With a copy protection system soon to be available on the 1394 interface, we anticipate seeing OpenCable™ products with the 1394 interface within a year," Collins added.
"TCI has required 1394 connections on a wide array of the boxes we have ordered under the OpenCable™ process," TCI Chairman and CEO Dr. John C. Malone said. "We have made access to television sets and other devices via 1394 a centerpiece of our plans to deliver enhanced services," said Malone, who also is chairman of CableLabs.
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 1394 is a standardized interface that allows for high bandwidth connections. The connection is physically embodied in a four- or six-wire, shielded twisted pair bundle that will plug into future television sets, including high definition television sets, and into the advanced digital set-top boxes being created under the OpenCable™ process.
The importance of 1394 is that it allows for pass-through of vast amounts of data at rates up to 400 million bits per second, which is important when delivering digital video and data services. Since video carried on the 1394 cable is digital, each device so connected may process video directly in the digital domain, thereby avoiding the expense and the potential degradation in image quality when converting back and forth from analog video.
About CableLabs: Cable Television Laboratories (www.cablelabs.com) was founded in 1988 by members of the cable television industry. A non-profit research and development consortium, CableLabs delivers innovations that enable cable operators to be the providers of choice in their markets. Cable operators from around the world are members. CableLabs maintains additional web sites at www.cablenet.org and www.ebif.tv.
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