CableLabs® Publishes OCAP™ 2.0 Middleware Specifications
The OCAP 2.0 specification is available to manufacturers, content developers, and the public through the OpenCable Web site (www.opencable.com). This collection of specifications establishes a road map for companies to create applications for interactive services that operate seamlessly and interoperably over broadband cable networks.
OCAP enhances consumer electronics manufacturers' ability to build and market set-top boxes or integrated television receivers directly to consumers. These devices would be able to provide the same interactive services available on set-tops provided by the cable operator. CableLabs has worked through vendor comments on the draft specifications over the past year and with that input, the specification now has reached a build-to status.
These developments underscore the momentum that has been gathering in support of OCAP. CableLabs has also secured commitments from several key supplier companies to provide on-site visiting engineers, off-site contributing engineers, and general assistance in the further development of the OpenCable Specifications, including OCAP. These suppliers include, as of this writing, Alticast, Canal+ Technologies, Cisco, Liberate Technologies, Microtune, Panasonic, Philips, and Sun Microsystems.
Several suppliers have made the additional contribution of equipment to CableLabs for use in the development and testing facilities for OCAP at CableLabs:
- Philips has contributed its "Silver Box" development set-top box, which supports test case and code development. Philips has also provided bit streams that include video and embedded interactive application associated with the video for the purpose of demonstrating MHP type applications currently being planned for deployment in Europe this year. (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 boxes.) Philips has also provided a DVB-S QPSK modulator to help convert the Silver Box for use on North American cable networks.
- Thales has provided CableLabs with its Amber product for re-multiplexing video with data streams for server output of interactive services; its Pearl product, that provides the capability to aggregate PSIP program data from multiple streams, and its Coral product, an object carousel or server product.
- S&T Technologies has agreed to provide an Object Carousel, associated development software and sample interactive applications that may potentially be migrated to OCAP.
- Sun will include CableLabs in their Media Appliance Early Access Program, and loan to CableLabs their Sun Blade platform.
- Tektronix has agreed to provide a new DSM-CC analyzer product, a key piece of test equipment.
CableLabs has completed a first draft of documentation to be provided to its member companies and to headend equipment vendors to assist in the proper design of networks that support OCAP. This initial draft includes significant contributions by engineers from Cisco Systems and AT&T Broadband. LG Electronics (parent company of Zenith) delivered its development set top for interoperability testing at CableLabs in April. LG and other Korean manufacturers are working on a fast track to build OpenCable and OCAP-enabled devices for the Korean market where OpenCable is a digital cable standard. (Digital cable is just now beginning to be introduced in Korea.)
CableLabs continues to work closely with the DVB organization to keep OCAP and MHP in alignment. CableLabs' President and CEO Dr. Richard R. Green, as Chairman of ITU Study Group 9, also is active in harmonizing middleware standards worldwide. CableLabs is also closely monitoring "interim" standards efforts, such as TVXML or the iTV Standards effort, to assure they proceed in harmony with OCAP, which enjoys wide cable industry support.
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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