CableLabs has upgraded its participation in the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA). It is now a Promoter Member, underlining the growing importance the cable industry is investing in the networking technology.

Comcast is the only other DLNA member directly from the cable industry; it is also a DLNA Promoter Member. The company has long backed DLNA as a vehicle for home networking.

CableLabs, as a Promoter Member of DLNA, has the opportunity to help drive the DLNA agenda by taking a leadership role, including the right to chair DLNA committees. Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) is a key element of DLNA, and CableLabs is also a member of the UPnP Forum.

The cable industry has been going in this direction for a while; keep in mind that OpenCable is DLNA-based.

CableLabs has instigated the formation of a committee called The Service Provider Requirement Task Force, which it is now co-chairing.

The DLNA was established by consumer electronics (CE) companies, and as such, it has not prioritized many concerns of greater import to service providers. The new task force is looking at things that CE hasn’t had much to do with, such as parental controls and emergency alerts, said CableLabs CTO Ralph Brown, but the task force will be concentrating on three priorities: user interfaces (UI), quality of service and experience (QoS and QoE), and digital rights management (DRM).

Consumers will have their choice of multiple UIs – they may get one with their TV, one with their handheld (smartphone, tablet), one accessible through their PC or laptop, and yet another from their service provider.

The issue for service providers is making sure their UI will be accessible throughout the DLNA environment. The typical DLNA UI tends to be file-based, which is not necessarily the best format for MSO navigation tools.

“The goal is the ability of the cable operator to provide the best ability to get to content. The same technology could be used by a consumer electronics maker,” Brown said.

The UI capabilities that come out of the new DLNA taskforce, he said, are intended to be technology agnostic. Cable won’t be able to dictate that the UI be based on OCAP, for example. But it can help specify how the UI can be implemented in a variety of ways and on a variety of devices, including set-top boxes, gateways, and other products.

DLNA announced two other new Promoter Members at the same time as CableLabs; they were DTS and Promise Technology.

More than 8,500 devices have been DLNA-certified, and these devices provide consumers the interoperability they need within an array of products, including mobile phones, digital cameras, PCs and laptops, printers, and televisions.