Tru2way continues to pick up steam with the consumer electronics industry as CableLabs announced yesterday that five more manufacturers have signed binding memorandums of understanding (MoU) with the top-six cable operators in the U.S.

Panasonic, Samsung, Advanced Digital Electronics (ADB), Intel and Digeo have signed on for the new MoU that Sony inked several weeks ago (story here).

Intel will use tru2way technology to build a system-on-a-chip that will support digital TVs, set-top boxes (STBs) and other devices.

ADB recently announced that its STB affiliate company had introduced a new range of products designed for the U.S. cable market, including a set-back box that has garnered tru2way certification from CableLabs.

The multi-industry agreement is embodied in a joint MoU that supports and endorses the tru2way technology platform developed by CableLabs for delivering two-way interactive digital cable video services. Detailed terms of the MoU have not yet been released while other potential signatories complete their review of the document.

In order to further develop tru2way, the signatories are also forming a founders advisory board comprising representatives of the cable TV, content, consumer electronics and information technology industries for advisory input to CableLabs.

The MoU covers CableLabs’ new tru2way Host Device License Agreement, which provides manufacturers of retail consumer electronics devices a streamlined license process for technology that is required to interface two-way interactive cable networks. CableLabs said the new host device license agreement also aligns with the “openness” focus that was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

The cable operators that have announced support for the tru2way platform on their networks are Comcast, Time Warner Cable (TWC), Cox, Cablevision, Charter and Bright House Networks, together representing more than 80 percent of all cable subscribers and 105 million homes passed.

“Tru2way technology will allow the industry to continually enhance the customer experience, ensuring that the latest features and technology are available to our customers nationwide,” said TWC President Glenn Britt. “TWC has already distributed nearly a million tru2way devices, and this agreement further supports the industry's efforts.”

Bill Helms, TWC’s VP of subscriber equipment, said during a tru2way conference in New Orleans last month that his company started tackling the OpenCable Platform two years ago. Currently, TWC has OCAP enabled in 40 percent of its footprint across 16 operating divisions in various regions with 900,000 subscribers and 1.1 million STBs.

“Our primary application deployed on our network right now is the OCAP digital Navigator developed by Time Warner Cable, but we also have third-party application support, as well,” Helms said. “We’re going to continue our OCAP rollouts to the rest of our markets as fast as we can.”

With more consumer electronics companies coming into the tru2way fold, the momentum appears to be swinging away from a technology that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has backed with the Federal Communications Commission.

The CEA has proposed its own digital cable ready plus (DCR+) as the technology standard for interactive devices, but the cable industry, along with consumer electronics companies – such as TiVo, Samsung and Panasonic, as well as the NCTA – have backed OpenCable, or tru2way, as the technology of choice.

With tru2way, cable operators can offer a wide range of services and product offerings that will differentiate them from their competitors. Tru2way applications will include addressable advertising, electronic program guides, caller ID on TV, news and sports information on TV screens, video-on-demand (VOD), digital video recorders, games, shopping and customer care.

For developers, content providers and broadcasters, tru2way holds the promise of “write once, deploy everywhere,” as opposed to writing to various proprietary platforms. Tru2way devices will eventually be available in retail stores, and customers will also be able to take their tru2way devices from one MSO footprint to another when they move.

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