CableLabs® Demonstrates Interoperability of iTV Applications
Interactive Television Industry Milestone
Louisville, Colorado, August 1, 2002—Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs®) hosted the second OCAP™ interoperability event during the week of July 22nd, demonstrating again the wide vendor support and incipient adoption of the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP™) middleware specification. Fifteen different companies supported the event with hardware platforms, middleware implementations, interactive TV applications, and development and test tools.
�This event successfully demonstrated all of the critical pieces of the OCAP end-to-end system,� said Don Dulchinos, VP of Advanced Platforms and Services at CableLabs. �The companies and products here represent the state-of-the-art for iTV application development and content authoring tools, application servers and playout equipment necessary at the headend, and middleware implementations built to the OCAP/MHP standard.�
�It�s exciting to see the pace of adoption of OCAP and the related MHP standard,� commented Dick Green, CEO of CableLabs. CableLabs continues to work closely with the DVB organization to keep OCAP and MHP in alignment. MHP is the European middleware standard which forms a substantial portion of the OCAP spec—work already done on MHP essentially furthers the completion of commercial OCAP-enabled receiving equipment. �There�s no other open software platform available for digital television that�s gaining vendor acceptance and support so rapidly, and this interop event underscores the success of many, many participants who are working diligently to create an international standard for an iTV software platform.� In addition to being CEO of CableLabs, Dr. Green is also chairman of the �SG9� study group within the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) responsible for specifying such an open international standard.
Hardware platforms demonstrated at the interop event included both production intent and software development platforms from Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB), Alticast, Canal+ Technologies, IBM, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sony, and Thomson. Interactive TV applications and content were provided by Alticast, Digisoft.tv, Espial, RTL Newmedia-Scip, Tality, and Top 5 Media. Application servers, object carousels, and other �playout� equipment necessary for injecting interactive content and application signaling into the MPEG transport stream were provided by Alticast, S&T, Tality, and Tektronix. In addition, Softel made its Mediasphere DSM-CC server available on loan to CableLabs, as did Thales with its Mercury transport stream analyzer, Coral DSM-CC server, and Pearl stream multiplexer. Alticast, Digital Keystone, Softel, Tektronix, TestQuest, Thales, and Unisoft provided various test, content authoring, and software development tools as part of the event.
CableLabs also demonstrated the first working components of the OCAP test suite, including the automated test environment (ATE), tests, and other equipment use to validate compliance with the OCAP specification. The OCAP test suite allows vendors to validate their implementations of the Sun Java™, DVB-MHP, and OCAP-specific application programming interfaces (APIs) that are required by the OCAP specification. �Companies such as Strategy and Technology (S&T), Sun Microsystems, The Open Group, and Unisoft are making extensive contributions to the on-going development of the test suite,� said Dulchinos. �We�re very pleased with the progress to date, but still have some distance to go." According to CableLabs, the first phase of development for both the OCAP ATE and the overall acceptance test procedure (ATP) is expected to be complete during the fourth quarter of this year.
Although the hardware and software specifications for OpenCable are complete, CableLabs is continuing work with its member companies and headend equipment suppliers to ensure the complete end-to-end readiness for OCAP. �We�ve identified no major roadblocks,� said Dulchinos. �There�s a lot of work to be done, but both the cable operators and the vendors are committed to integrating the necessary hardware and software upgrades to support OCAP over the next several months.�
In addition to completing end-to-end readiness for OCAP, CableLabs is also working to streamline the certification process to accommodate consumer electronic manufacturers eager to minimize the time to market for products that are compliant with the specifications.
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.
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