CableLabs has released a request for proposal (RFP) for implementations of OCAP (OpenCable Application Platform), a middleware specification for digital set-tops, televisions and other consumer devices based on the cable industry's OpenCable platform.

CableLabs said the RFP aims to solicit industry implementations of OCAP for OpenCable devices and "to hasten the ability of cable operators to launch new services made possible by OCAP."

OCAP currently comes in two flavors: 1.0 and 2.0. OCAP 1.0 is largely based on Europe's Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) and includes an execution engine based on Java. OCAP 2.0, a heavier version, will add a presentation engine to the mix.

CableLabs, which is distributing the RFP on behalf of the cable industry, said it will serve as the repository and evaluator of technical information submitted in response to the RFP.

Several MSOs, including AT&T Broadband, Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable, voiced support of OCAP in Monday's announcement. Charter Communications and Cox Communications are also participating in the RFP process, CableLabs said.

Still, "individual cable operators will make independent and subjective judgments about which, if any, [OCAP] vendors to negotiate with," said Time Warner Senior Vice President of Advanced Engineering and Subscriber Technology Mike Hayashi, in a press release.

OCAP vendors typically refer to existing middleware suppliers such as Liberate Technologies, Canal Plus, Microsoft Corp., OpenTV Corp. and PowerTV Inc., a division of Scientific-Atlanta Inc.

All interested parties must advise CableLabs by Aug. 26 their intention to answer the RFP. Final responses to CableLabs and cable operators are due on Sept. 12.