Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications and Liberty Global have joined Time Warner Cable’s OCAP/EBIF Developer Network (OEDN) to further develop and promote interactive television (iTV) applications.

Time Warner Cable is OEDN’s charter sponsor. The additional sponsorship by the four cable operators will help improve and expand the reach of the online developer community, develop an international version of the site and seed some universities across the nation with the tools and test environments that are necessary to help students develop iTV applications.

With its new “Academic ITV Software Developer Kit” (AISDK), OEDN said it has been working with several key iTV companies and partners to provide a way for students to develop and test iTV applications using industry-standard tools.

“When we started OEDN in 2007, we recognized the need to build a solid foundation of an iTV developer ecosystem for digital cable – from the bottom-up,” said Will Kreth, senior director of advanced video strategy for Time Warner Cable and founder of OEDN. “To attract developers to the EBIF and tru2way (OCAP) platforms, we needed to build bridges with several key stakeholders in the MSO, vendor, programmer, advertiser and university communities."

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

Tru2way, which is now the consumer-orientated name for the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP), was originally part of the broader OpenCable initiative that 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 enhanced television (ETV) and Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) being designated as lighter-weight applications that can run on legacy set-top boxes before porting over to a full OpenCable environment.

For developers, content providers and broadcasters, OCAP holds the promise of “write once, deploy everywhere,” as opposed to writing to various proprietary platforms. CableLabs, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), vendors and some of the top cable operators in the nation have been trying to spur development of OCAP among the developer community through various events, such as the Developers Conferences at The Cable Show the past two years (story here).

“Over the long term, digital cable needs to create a robust iTV developer ecosystem from prototype to testing to deployment,” said Jeff Chen, senior vice president of advanced technology at Bright House Networks. “Through our support of OEDN, we seek to accelerate the development cycles and bring new iTV applications that consumers want to the market.”

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