CableLabs® Executive Committee Puts OpenCable™ on Fast Track
Louisville, Colorado, November 5, 1997—Cable Television Laboratories Inc. (CableLabs®) today announced that the Executive Committee of its Board of Directors has instructed the OpenCable™ project managed by CableLabs to proceed on a fast track.
OpenCable™ was established to foster interoperability among advanced digital set-top terminals that will be built by multiple vendors and will be used in broadband two-way cable networks by developing key interface specifications. CableLabs received 23 responses from computer and consumer electronics companies to an OpenCable™ request for information published in late August.
"We are very pleased with the progress we've made toward establishing an open specification environment for advanced two-way cable networks," said Dr. Richard Green, president and CEO of CableLabs. "The responses from the vendor community have allowed us to establish a consensus within our industry on the majority of key interfaces. This will allow us to complete and to publish these specifications over the coming months."
OpenCable™'s specifications are intended to foster competition among vendors for key elements of digital cable networks, while ensuring interoperability of devices connected to cable networks. This will, in turn, lead to competitive pricing for set-top boxes, and the introduction of digital cable-ready TV sets and set- tops into retail distribution.
"Consumers will be the big winners from OpenCable™," said Bill Schleyer, chairman of the OpenCable™ task force. "Open specifications and the resulting competitive pricing for digital cable devices will enable a wide variety of new interactive services for consumers."
The key OpenCable™ interfaces include the formats for digital cable television signals (MPEG-2), the consumer privacy system, the copyright protection system, the interfaces for high-speed connections to the Internet (Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specification [DOCSIS]), and the interfaces required to author interactive applications.
OpenCable™ will ultimately certify that devices comply with the specifications, thereby allowing these devices to be made available to consumers through retail outlets. "An OpenCable™ set-top box purchased in New York will work in Boise," said CableLabs Chairman Dr. John Malone, chairman and CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. "This interoperability also will allow new interactive services to be made available broadly across the cable industry."
OpenCable™ will provide a forum for clarifying these specifications for use with television sets connected to two-way cable networks. "We still have a lot of work ahead of us," Green said. "Going forward we will begin to publish the specifications for key interfaces. At the same time, we will continue to work with the vendor community on evolving the specifications needed for interactive services."
Green predicted that OpenCable™ set-top boxes will first become available to cable operators during 1998. "Converging on an open specification is an important step on the path to retail availability of set-top boxes," Green said.
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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