CableLabs RFI Assesses New Digital Devices for Home
Louisville, Colorado, August 19, 1996—New digital devices in the home, including network computers and digital video disk (DVD) players, and their possible impact on residential entertainment and information services are the subject of a CableLabs request for information (RFI) issued today to more than 200 vendor companies.
In addition to these emerging digital technologies, the RFI also investigates new developments in existing technologies such as personal computers, video game players and television monitors, and their impact on design of cable set-top boxes and modems. An interoperable home network linking these devices could make possible a wide range of new and enhanced services over cable networks; the RFI asks for insight on these services, their role in the new consumer electronics environment, and the network supporting them.
The deadline for responses to be delivered to CableLabs is 5 p.m. MST, Monday, September 30, 1996.
"Our member companies, and board members in particular, want CableLabs to investigate the technological implications and business opportunities likely to arise out of this proliferation of new digital technology in the home," said Dr. Richard Green, president and CEO of CableLabs. "We will use this RFI to evaluate various views on how the residential digital environment may emerge, and to develop a strategy for how the cable industry can focus their efforts to develop services to serve this new environment."
CableLabs seeks input on three areas:
- Attributes of the Network Computer. Also known as the Internet appliance or the "thin client," this device could dramatically alter the complexion of the household network. This section asks for information on their design and software requirements, as well as the communications requirements for networks connecting to these devices.
- Emergence of Other New Digital Devices. Several other new residential digital devices of interest to cable operators may emerge. In this section, CableLabs seeks information on DVD technology, as well as digital television sets and game players, and the implications for new services over cable networks.
- Trends in Customer Premises Architecture. Networking these technologies within the home poses a number of difficult issues. This section of the RFI asks for information on ports, peripherals, technical standards, wiring and other transmission media relevant to household networks.
One of the challenges in addressing these issues is the broad inter-industry scope of concern. "It is our hope that this RFI will help to stimulate discussions among the relevant industries regarding these questions of synergy between devices and how future home networks will connect them," said Dr. David Reed, CableLabs' Vice President of Strategic Assessment and RFI team leader.
"Through the RFI process, we hope to identify those players with technology expertise in this arena who are willing to develop new products that ultimately result in the delivery of new services over cable networks," Reed said.
Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs) is a research and development consortium of cable television system operators serving more than 85% of the cable subscribers in the United States, 70% of the subscribers in Canada, and 10% of cable subscribers in Mexico. CableLabs plans and funds research and development projects that will help cable companies take advantage of future opportunities and meet future challenges in the television and telecommunications industries. It also transfers relevant technologies to member companies and to the industry. In addition, CableLabs acts as a clearinghouse to provide information on current and prospective technological developments that are of interest to the cable industry.
CableLabs has issued 12 RFIs and RFPs since it was founded in 1988. The issuance of an RFI does not necessarily indicate that equipment will be purchased as a result. Any possible acquisition of equipment by cable operators as a result of this RFI will be at their own discretion.
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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