CableLabs® Publishes OCAP™ Middleware Specifications
Cable Industry MilestoneLouisville, January 3, 2002—Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. (CableLabs®) has finalized the OpenCable™ Application Platform (OCAP™) software specification. Called OCAP 1.0, the specification is available to manufacturers, content developers, and the public through the OpenCable Web site.
OCAP enhances the ability for consumer electronics manufacturers to build and market set-top boxes or integrated television receivers directly to consumers. These devices would be able to receive the services available on set tops provided by the cable operator. The specification enables cable to create an interactive television delivery mechanism to provide enhanced services to cable customers.
"CableLabs has accomplished an unprecedented milestone that places the cable industry out front when it comes to openly available, publicly accessible guidelines for creating new and exciting interactive entertainment applications for cable consumers," said Time Warner's Joseph Collins, Chairman and CEO of AOL Time Warner Interactive Video who also is Chairman of the CableLabs Board of Directors. "We intend to fully support OCAP-enabled, OpenCable set-tops and other devices when they appear on our networks," Collins added.
Leading cable companies represented on the CableLabs Executive Committee, including the nation's top six multiple system operators (MSOs), committed to support OCAP in a letter to CableLabs CEO & President Dr. Richard Green. The MSOs wrote that their systems would support CableLabs-certified, OCAP-enabled devices once such equipment becomes commercially available, and concluded that "[t]he commitment embodied in this letter takes the process of retail availability of navigation devices to the next level, to include CableLabs-certified, OCAP-enabled devices."
The OCAP specification is largely based on the European Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) middleware specification created by the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) organization. Thus, there is an opportunity for worldwide interoperability of interactive applications and content. The MHP and OCAP specifications also have been submitted to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a contribution to an international standard. Please see CableLabs press release, "CableLabs™ To Use European MHP Middleware for OpenCable™," for more information.
"This process gives the consumer electronics community even more incentive to go full steam ahead into competitive manufacturing of set-top boxes and cable-friendly digital television receivers," said Dr. Richard R. Green, CableLabs President and CEO.
"Panasonic congratulates CableLabs on their release of the OCAP 1.0 specification," said Paul Liao, CTO of Matsushita Electronic Corp. of America. "As the specification develops, we look forward to the widespread and early adoption of OCAP by U.S. cable operators. By building on MHP, the OCAP specification is a good step toward a consistent, open, and more global, platform, which should permit the development of an expanding world of advanced interactive cable services."
"As a long-time proponent of open standards, a contributing member of DVB-MHP, and as a strong supporter of the OpenCable software specification initiative, Canal+ Technologies applauds CableLabs for the finalization of the OCAP specifications," said David Moss, CEO of Canal+ Technologies, Inc. "Leveraging MHP as the foundation for OCAP sends a strong message that the US cable market is definitively a member of the global digital television community, ultimately leading to greater value and benefits for US cable operators and their subscribers not just in consumer electronics products but in compelling new interactive content and services."
"Liberate Technologies is an author of the OCAP specification, member of the DVB-MHP consortium and the only middleware platform certified for Java, the foundation for MHP," said Dave Limp, Chief Strategy officer of Liberate Technologies. "As the industry leader in developing open standards-based software platforms, we remain committed to helping CableLabs accelerate delivery of interactive services to customers everywhere."
"As one of the participating companies in the OCAP process, Microsoft supports fair and open industry specifications. Consumers will benefit through greater choice and innovation as the standards evolve to enable more product options, innovative programming and a variety of price points," said Alan Yates, Vice President of sales and marketing for Microsoft TV. "We are pleased to work with CableLabs toward this goal and look forward to working with the cable industry to advance new cable products toward commercial success."
"This is a positive step forward for the industry. We believe the development of standards and standards-based products are critical for the long-term growth of the interactive television industry," said Vincent Dureau, OpenTV chief technology officer. "OpenTV has actively engaged in the implementation of MHP software and applications in Europe and is a member of the DVB steering committee. We are proud to be the first to release product ready for certification by the MHP standard. We look forward to working with CableLabs and other leading industry players in the U.S. to provide compelling middleware and content, as we have done around the world."
The release of the OCAP 1.0 specification supports an EE environment (based on Java technology), and will serve as the core for a family of future OCAP products. For example, OCAP 2.0, which will be finalized shortly, provides the addition of the Presentation Engine (PE) and a "bridge" that allows both to work together. The PE, similar to a Web browser, will provide support for creating and using the Web's standardized markup and scripting languages, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and ECMAScript. Manufacturers may choose to develop immediately to OCAP 1.0, or move directly to an OCAP 2.0 development, giving them flexibility to target different customer needs.
OCAP 2.0 will be fully backward compatible with OCAP 1.0. Further, OCAP 1.0 and 2.0 have been designed such that interactive television applications that have already been deployed by cable companies will continue to work when customers upgrade to an OCAP-compliant device.
CableLabs has already begun defining an OCAP test plan, as well as coordinating an extensive developer support program. CableLabs will conduct a full-day Developer Conference in February to connect manufacturers and developers with the many providers of technology, tools, and services that will support OCAP. CableLabs also is planning an informal OCAP interoperability test wave at its laboratories in March.
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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