Cable companies in Europe are looking for standard middleware, in an attempt to save money through economies of scale. To that end, Cable Europe Labs has initiated its European Middleware Initiative, a project aimed at developing a next-generation middleware specification for the European cable market.

The organization, the European counterpart to CableLabs in the U.S., is issuing a call for participation in refining the specification in advance of publication. It is inviting experts in the area of interactive TV, DVB MHP, Java, HTML, Flash and other relevant multimedia disciplines to apply.

Building scale while upping the speed of new interactive services will drive the newly announced initiative, Cable Europe Labs said.

“Our members deliver the latest and greatest services to more than 73 million homes. We will maintain a tight focus on the benefits of scale and stimulate an applications market. If you think of middleware as the layer between the application and hardware, it is clear that emphasizing speed and scale are logical evolution in today’s market. An open platform also makes it possible for developers to get their apps into our customers’ hands faster,” says Malcolm Taylor, managing director of Cable Europe Labs.

Future requirements such as increased interactivity, enhanced programming, games, advanced advertisement and Web entertainment will also be a focus of the initiative, which embraces DVB MHP, Java, HTML and Adobe Flash.

Parm Sandhu, CEO of Unitymedia, a German cable op, said: "An open European middleware platform brings with it speed in being able to best enhance our customers’ experience, and at the same time make it possible to quickly and efficiently offer new services, which will be the key to our continued success. Middleware is like an operating system, and being able to get updates constantly is crucial to us. It’s ultimately about cable remaining competitive and building both scale and speed into our offerings in the world’s biggest trading block in the world. It just makes sense.”

“Telenet has been a leader in offering advanced interactive television for many years. We see the great value of open standards and are strong supporters of Cable Europe Labs and this initiative. Middleware is not just another part of the network, and this program will drive up our competitive offering at a time when the customer expects the newest apps. Expanding our net of experts is another good move for us – and Cable Europe Labs,” said Jan Vorstermans, executive vice president and CTO at Telenet.

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