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User agents shine at recent CableLabs interop

Thu, 05/19/2011 - 8:25am
Mike Robuck

User agents took center stage at a recent CableLabs Interoperability Lab Event that focused on the enhanced TV (ETV) interactive television platform.

A total of 12 participants were able to run their ETV applications across a record number of 12 user agents during the interop that ran May 2-6 at CableLabs' Louisville, Colo., headquarters.

The user agents ranged from cable operator to supplier implementations, including: Comcast Legacy, Comcast OCAP, Time Warner Cable ODN, Cox Tahoe, FourthWall Media's Sara, MOT i-Guide, Passport (Cisco) and OCAP agents, Zodiac Interactive's Sara and OCAP agents, Ignite Solutions, and CableLabs' user agent.

CableLabs said all 12 user agents were able to demonstrate full return path connectivity functioning across four cable plants that CableLabs hosts in its laboratories.

"Cox Communications brought the Cox ETV user agent to this event and successfully ran about 20 different applications with no technical issues," said Craig Smithpeters, executive director of interactive services engineering at Cox Communications. "CableLabs Interop Events are valuable to cable operators because it allows for one-stop testing with the vast majority of the ETV ecosystem and accelerates our ETV deployments across our cable systems."

Representatives from 19 companies contributed their latest development work and collaborated together to validate against CableLabs ETV and OpenCable Content Definition Format (CoDF) specifications. Companies developing ETV applications that participated in the ETV Interop included: Alticast, Canoe Ventures, Cognizant Technology Solutions, FourthWall Media, HSN, icueTV, Ignite Solutions, RCDb and Starz Entertainment. Companies that supported the Interop by providing user agents or other tools included BCM (formerly BackChannelMedia), Comcast, Cox, S&T, S3 Group, Softel-USA, Tektronix, Time Warner Cable, Unisoft and Zodiac Interactive.

"The focus this time around seemed less about common understanding of the spec and more about end-to-end definition of how EBIF-authored applications are enabled by MSOs on a scalable basis," said Don Dulchinos, senior vice president of the CableLabs Advertising and Interactive Services Program.

On May 5, approximately 30 cable operator guests were able to watch some of the demonstrations. Varieties of EBIF apps included social media, t-commerce, click-to-call voice apps, second-screen synchronization and VOD telescoping.

Arris, BigBand Networks and BCM teamed up to demonstrate a solution for dynamic ad and application insertion on the national and local level.

Another participant demonstrated extending an ETV application beyond the set-top box to an IP device. In addition, several ETV test and monitoring tools were demonstrated, which CableLabs said were becoming more important as ETV rolls out into the cable industry.

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