Cable Show: TWC rolls with tru2way while Comcast gears up
Time Warner Cable (TWC) already has one foot through the tru2way doorway and into customers’ homes, while Comcast is gearing up to follow suit.
During Sunday’s session, “Housebound: Tru2way deployment plans,” employees of the two biggest cable operators in the nation gave a rundown of where they are with tru2way.
Bill Helms, TWC’s VP of subscriber equipment, said his company started tackling tru2way, or the OpenCable Platform, two years ago. Currently, TWC has OCAP enabled in 40 percent of its footprint, with 900,000 subscribers and 1.1 million set-top boxes (STBs).
“It’s been a little bit of an impact on our divisions because we were doing separable security as we deployed it, so that added to the fun of it all,” Helms said.
TWC rotated in some of the OCAP-enabled STBs as part of its “natural refresh” of boxes, but Helms said that the clamor for high-definition (HD) by subscribers helped TWC get more of the OCAP boxes deployed.
Going forward, one area of focus for TWC’s OCAP strategy is home networking, which would include moving photos and user-generated content between PCs and TVs. Helms said that TWC is also interested in third-party applications that would probably revolve around customer care applications, but the industry needs to get meaningful tools into developers’ hands so that they can come to TWC with a product that is nearly completed.
While Comcast doesn’t have any OCAP services deployed to customers, it’s working diligently to get its network ready, according to Sree Kotay, Comcast Cable’s SVP and chief software architect. Comcast is working on a three-pronged approach that includes: EBIF and ETV applications that can run on legacy STBs and can be ported into OCAP boxes down the road; Onramp, which uses a subset of JAVA APIs that OCAP is based upon and was used to deploy Comcast’s TiVo service; and full OCAP deployments.
TWC is also working on bound ETV/EBIF applications that can run on the large number of legacy STBs.
Kotay said that around 60 percent of Comcast’s networks will be OCAP-enabled by the end of the year, and that the MSO will have tru2way network capability in 98 percent of its network by the close of next year. Comcast expects 15 percent of its total devices to be two-way by the end of 2009, while 50 percent will be Java-cable by the end of next year.
Kotay and Helms both talked about using OCAP to tie in voice and data services with video. While each of them said it was on their companies’ respective roadmaps, they weren’t able to provide many details on when the tie-ins would take place, but Helms pointed out that caller ID on TVs is already one example of tying two bundled services together.
While there are conditional rights issues to be resolved, tying video into data services could enable TV viewers to pull in Internet content onto their TVs, or move content from TVs to PCs and mobile devices.
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