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Comcast, Time Warner form OCAP venture

Mon, 08/09/2004 - 8:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable aim to accelerate their foray into interactive television (iTV) by forming a joint venture tasked with creating an OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) middleware implementation.

OCAP is a CableLabs-specified middleware for OpenCable-based "hosts," including digital set-tops and televisions. OCAP is also expected to play a key role in a forthcoming two-way version of the "Plug & Play" agreement for set-top-free digital televisions.

The MSOs, which together serve 32 million cable subs, said the joint venture, to be called OCAP Development LLC, will build the implementation based on work contributed by Time Warner Cable as well as from yet unnamed third party developers.

Earlier this year, Time Warner Cable Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development Kevin Leddy revealed at a CableLabs-sponsored media briefing in New York that the MSO was planning to create an OCAP licensing business of its own. It appears that those efforts will continue, but with added input from Comcast.

"We expect the work of OCAP Development LLC to provide a boost to the entire industry," said Time Warner Cable Chief Technology Officer Mike LaJoie, in a release.

Although the joint venture enjoins two cable giants and sets the industry's sights firmly on OCAP, several other MSOs and vendors are also working on an "OnRamp to OCAP" project that aims to kick-start cable's iTV efforts by supporting millions of legacy digital set-tops that don't have the technical wherewithal to support the full OCAP stack.

In addition to Time Warner Cable, other OnRamp participants include CableLabs, Charter Communications, Liberate Technologies, OpenTV, Motorola Broadband, Philips Consumer Electronics, Sun Microsystems, GoldPocket Interactive and Vidiom Systems.

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