Platform Maturity and Versatility Are Hallmarks of
CableLabs® ETV Interop
The highlight was that participants were able to run their ETV applications across a record number of 12 user agents. A user agent is effectively a "player" that resides on the set-top box which graphically presents the interactive application on the TV screen. Hosting an event where app developers can gather in a single location to run their development applications across multiple user agents is a very productive exercise toward ETV deployments across cable operator systems.
The user agents ranged from cable operator to supplier implementations as follows: Comcast Legacy, Comcast OCAP, Time Warner Cable ODN, Cox Tahoe, FourthWall Media's Sara, MOT i-Guide, Passport (Cisco) and OCAP agents, Zodiac Interactive's Sara and OCAP agents, Ignite Solutions and CableLabs' user agent. Noteworthy is that all twelve user agents were able to demonstrate full return path connectivity functioning across four cable plants that CableLabs hosts in its laboratories.
Representatives from nineteen companies contributed their latest development work and collaborated together to validate against CableLabs ETV and OpenCable™ Content Definition Format (CoDF) Specifications. Companies developing ETV applications that participated in the ETV Interop included: Alticast, Canoe Ventures LLC, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Fourthwall Media, Inc., HSN, icueTV, Inc., Ignite Solutions, RCDb and Starz Entertainment. Companies that supported the Interop by providing user agents or other tools included BCM (formerly BackChannel Media), Comcast, Cox Communications, S&T, S3 Group, Softel-USA, Tektronix, Time Warner Cable, Unisoft and Zodiac Interactive.
"Cox Communications brought the Cox ETV user agent to this event and successfully ran about 20 different applications with no technical issues," said Craig Smithpeters, Executive Director, Interactive Services Engineering, Cox Communications. "CableLabs Interop Events are valuable to cable operators because it allows for one stop testing with the vast majority of the ETV eco-system and accelerates our ETV deployments across our cable systems," he added.
"As a first time participant at a CableLabs event, I found the activity very worthwhile," stated Anand Shah, CEO of Ignite Solutions. "I had access to many support tools and resources in a single location which proved out our EBIF on HTML over IP solution. As a relatively new entrant to the interactive television space, many cable operators suggested that I participate in a CableLabs Interop Event to prove out my development work, and I am pleased that I followed their advice," Mr. Shah continued.
"The focus this time around seemed less about common understanding of the spec and more about end-to-end definition of how EBIF-authored applications are enabled by MSOs on a scalable basis," said Don Dulchinos, Senior Vice President of the CableLabs Advertising and Interactive Services Program.
On May 5 during the Interop, approximately 30 guests from cable operators witnessed several cutting edge demonstrations. Varieties of EBIF apps included social media, t-commerce, click-to-call voice apps, second-screen synchronization, and VOD telescoping. Several participants partnered to demonstrate a solution for dynamic ad and application insertion on the national and local level. Another participant demonstrated extending an ETV application beyond the set-top box to an IP device. In addition, several ETV test and monitoring tools were demonstrated, which are becoming more important as ETV rolls out into the cable industry.
Information on all CableLabs activities focused on ETV may be found at www.ebif.tv. Vendors working on ETV applications should contact Sheila Keller, Vendor Relations Program Coordinator at CableLabs, for information on how to participate in future events.
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 web sites at www.cablelabs.com; www.packetcable.com; www.cablemodem.com; www.cablenet.org, and www.opencable.com.
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