CableLabs said a total of 15 vendors participated in an interoperability event it hosted in its Louisville, Colo. facility last month for OpenCable Platform and enhanced TV (eTV) applications.

The interop events provide vendors with an informal, laboratory setting to test their latest products within CableLabs’ headends and testing environment in order to determine compliance with CableLabs’ specifications and the ability of their products to interoperate with other devices in an end-to-end OpenCable system. CableLabs doesn’t charge companies to participate in the interop events. Phil Bender, project director of business relations, OpenCable, organized last month’s event.

“We gained valuable insight from the participants,” Bender said in a statement. “With the growth of interactive services on the cable TV platform, the community of OpenCable application developers could benefit by participating in future events.”

CableLabs is planning its next OpenCable interop for the spring of 2008. The RFI will be posted on the corporate Web site and may be reached at the following link:

The OpenCable Platform, which was previously known as OCAP, was originally part of the broader OpenCable initiative, which CableLabs launched in 1997 to promote the deployment of interactive services over cable.

OCAP consists of a stack of middleware software that resides between applications and the operating system within a consumer electronics device such as a set-top box or OCAP-compliant TV set. Java-based OpenCable devices can have new information or applications ported to them because of their two-way capabilities, with ETV being an early forerunner of applications for legacy set-top boxes. 

The OpenCable Platform, once it’s widely deployed, will support blended services such as caller ID on TVs, polling and voting, as well as point-and-click e-commerce and information services.

“The OpenCable platform provides industry hardware and software vendors the opportunity to develop innovative, new capabilities that can be broadly deployed across all MSOs’ plants,” said Paul Woidke, Comcast Spotlight’s vice president, in a statement. “Advertisers will gain the opportunity to reach an audience that is interested in their products while providing consumers useful, relevant and helpful advertising messages.”

Cable operators are in various stages of OpenCable deployments. Time Warner Cable has deployed 150,000 OpenCable Platform compliant set-top boxes to date, while Comcast expects to have OCAP-enabled systems in 80 percent of its footprint by next year. Cox has said it expects to have five OCAP trials underway by the end of the year and a national footprint next year.