CableLabs has issued a new OpenCable specification designed to funnel high-definition television programming through advanced digital set-tops and other OpenCable-based devices or "hosts."

OpenCable is a CableLabs initiative that aims to create the technical pieces necessary to lend "portability" to digital cable set-tops and, consequently, foster a retail market for the equipment.

The advanced host specification describes requirements for retail products that are compatible with OCAP (OpenCable Application Platform) 2.0, a middleware specification, which calls for presentation and execution engines, and with DOCSIS set-top gateway specifications, which CableLabs issued earlier this year.

CableLabs said the new High Definition STB Host specification "describes requirements for retail set-top boxes that decode all formats of high definition signals used on digital cable plants."

CableLabs has incorporated DVI (Digital Video Interface) and HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) in the new specification, marking "a major step in fulfilling the cable industry's support for this digital connector," said CableLabs Vice President of Advanced Platforms and Services Don Dulchinos, in a press release.

Support for DVI was reached in July 2001 between U.S. cable and DBS operators and a number of movie studios, CableLabs noted.

The new spec also defines a number of alternative interfaces, including IEEE-1394 with Digital Transmission Content Protection, and the high definition analog component interface (EIA/CEA-770.3-C), CableLabs said.

CableLabs has posted the new host specifications at