EBIF: It’s now

Thu, 02/25/2010 - 10:12am
Mike Robuck

For those who have been in the cable industry for some time, the road to interactive TV has been long, winding and sometimes tortuous with a few dead ends, but now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday, CED magazine hosted a Webinar on CableLabs’ Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) that was sponsored by the Comcast Media Center. After the Webinar was over, the panelists were still on the conference line when Canoe Ventures’ CTO Arthur Orduña said that the most important item to remember about EBIF is that this will mark the first time that a technology will be launched on a national scale by the cable industry, with various partners and stakeholders outside of the industry playing key roles, as well.

During the Webinar, Orduña said Canoe Ventures was on schedule to launch its RFI (request for information) interactive advertising campaign sometime this spring, but he didn’t want to announce the exact date. The RFI campaign will include some of the six investors in Canoe Ventures, which comprises Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks.

In order to facilitate the liftoff of EBIF, look for an educational campaign to get all of the players working toward the same goal. The effort will include a Web site and EBIF-related events at the upcoming spring and fall cable industry shows.

Also during the Webinar, CableLabs software engineer Carey Sonsino went over some of the details of the new EBIF I06 spec that was announced by CableLabs earlier this month.

Look for the “candidate specifications” to be published tomorrow for CableLabs’ NDA participants. From there, CableLabs, MSOs and vendors will revise the specs in the second and third quarters of this year, with a goal of publishing the final specifications in the third or fourth quarter of 2010. While there aren’t any plans for formal certification of user agents at this time, there will be informal testing for UAs this year.

Homer Gonzalez III, the Comcast Media Center’s director of products and services, spoke about the CMC’s EBIF work to date with vendors and cable operators during the Webinar. While EBIF widgets – such as voting and polling, local news and weather – are almost a given when it comes to candidates for early adoption by viewers, Gonzalez said Caller ID on TV, and more recently t-commerce, are also drawing a lot of interest.

In-Stat principal analyst Gerry Kaufhold spoke about where EBIF fits in the cable industry, which includes a tighter relationship between MSOs and their customers, as well as the outlook for advanced advertising.

But don’t just take my word for it: For more information on all things EBIF, such as how “unbound” apps that will work in I06, check out the on-demand version of the Webinar on CED’s Web site.


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