itaas ports EBIF user agent to Comcast’s Cisco boxes
Comcast and itaas jointly announced today that they’ve wrapped up porting TVWorks’ user agent for use on the cable operator’s Cisco set-top boxes.
At last year’s Cable Show, itaas and Comcast announced they were teaming up to offer cable operators an iTV platform based on CableLabs’ EBIF specification.
The new user agent will aid MSOs, including Comcast, in expanding their current EBIF-enabled footprints and accelerate deployment of interactive advertising and other enhanced applications – such as Caller ID, widgets for news and weather, customer self-service and instant subscription-type interactive applications – to legacy set-top boxes that are already deployed in subscribers’ homes.
The user agent is built on the EBIF engine developed by TVWorks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast, and builds on the companies’ collaborative effort to help cable operators deploy a standard interactive television platform.
Through a licensing agreement with TVWorks, itaas offers MSOs an EBIF deployment package for use with Motorola set-top boxes that includes a license, deployment support and maintenance services.
“We are excited to provide development expertise to extend the reach of the EBIF platform,” said itaas CEO Vibha Rustagi. “The in-depth experience that we have gained in porting this user agent lends itself to our ability to support it for other MSOs also wishing to deploy EBIF applications in the near future, regardless of which set-top boxes their customers are using.”
Comcast has deployed the TVWorks EBIF user agent across 12 million homes, representing more than 20 million set-top boxes, and plans to begin trialing the newly ported user agent in its Cisco footprint later this year.
“We’re using EBIF to help our customers enjoy new ways of interacting with the programming and services on their televisions, like Caller ID, and this is an important step in being able to bring these types of enhanced experiences to even more people,” said Mark Hess, senior vice president of advanced business and technology development for Comcast.
Rustagi said porting the new user agent to Cisco’s set-top boxes was a complex process because it included integration with both the guide and set-top box layers.
“We’ve been working on it since last year,” she said. “It takes eight to 12 months for something like this to be fully ready for production.”