Light Reading

Revealed: The Tru2way MOU

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Mark your calendars: July 1, 2009, is shaping up to be a key date in the U.S. cable industry's adoption of tru2way, an "open" platform that aims to spawn a retail market for interactive digital cable set-tops and televisions. (See Cable Makes Big 'tru2way' Play .)

That's according to newly revealed deployment details and other elements of "mutual support" outlined in a "binding" memorandum of understanding (MOU) for interactive digital cable products (IDCPs) that Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) negotiated with the six largest U.S. cable MSOs -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Charter Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), and Bright House Networks . (See Sony Supports tru2way.)

Together, those operators represent 80 percent of all U.S. cable subscribers and about 105 million homes passed.

Two weeks after the Sony-cable MOU was announced, it was revealed that a handful of other companies -- Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , and Digeo Inc. -- had signed the agreement. More are expected to follow suit. (See More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way.)

But what's in the MOU? CE firms and MSOs presently tied to the agreement haven't officially released the terms, but Comcast revealed them in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) dated June 10, 2008.

A good portion of the MOU, effective for 10 years after the signing, details the commitment and general support that operators and Sony (considered an "adopter" in the MOU language) will give to tru2way.

In essence, the MOU will forge "common reliance," a requirement generally sought by the consumer electronics companies before they make a significant commitment to a technology.

Target: July 1, 2009
From a deployment standpoint, the cable MSO "founders" have agreed to provide network support for tru2way middleware and also to support tru2way in the headends serving all digital cable systems by July 1, 2009.

Moreover, MSOs are also committed to including tru2way middleware in 20 percent of new "interactive navigation devices" (i.e. set-top boxes) they purchase after July 1, 2009. However, that requirement will terminate once the cable industry has deployed a total of 10 million interactive navigation devices with tru2way middleware.

Among the cable MOU "founders," Charter's deployment commitment on both counts (network support and devices with tru2way middleware) is deferred to July 1, 2010.

Although "founding" operators (and presumably any other MSOs that sign up) have committed to certain tru2way deployment milestones, the MOU also references a tru2way "sunset," or get-out clause, that means the MOU is scrapped if retail uptake is too low.

Specifically, that "sunset" option becomes effective if fewer than 500,000 additional new retail IDCPs (set-top boxes or TVs) from tru2way adopters are connected to receive cable services via CableCARDs or another "mutually agreed upon conditional access technology" in any rolling 24-month period following July 1, 2009.

Here are a few other highlights of the MOU, as detailed in the filing:

  • On-screen navigation display: "Multifunction IDCPs" are allowed to overlay the manufacturer's navigation control method over cable screens so long as the overlay is user-initiated for each use, is solely for navigation (i.e. there are no advertisements), is transitory, and appears the same regardless of the channel. Recent tweaks to tru2way, for example, allow for some forthcoming DVRs from TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) to toggle between its navigation system and the operator's native guide. (See TiVo à la Mode .)

  • A fab FAB: CableLabs will establish a Founders Advisory Board (FAB) made up of representatives from the cable, content, consumer electronics, and "information technology" industries. In addition to providing input to CableLabs, the FAB will vote on any proposed changes to the tru2way hardware specs.

  • Digital outputs: CableLabs is also responsible for approving (and rejecting) digital outputs and/or content protection technologies "on a reasonable and non discriminatory basis." The R&D house must make those decisions within 180 days of submission by an "adopter." CableLabs, however, agreed to be bound by a final order of the FCC.

  • Beyond the specs: Although CableLabs and the MSOs appear to have significant control over the applications that tru2way equipment vendors develop and integrate into their set-tops and interactive TVs, "innovative features and functions… are allowed and encouraged." The caveat is that they must be "consistent" with the tru2way specifications and licenses. So, the vendors are encouraged to develop their own apps, so long as they comply with the over-arching system and don't break anything!

  • What's next? The FCC has yet to take any official action on tru2way or a competing platform called DCR+, but Comcast, in the filing's cover letter, argues that the MOU amounts to a "binding contract" and, therefore, "does not require further government action to facilitate bidirectional compatibility of cable television systems and consumer electronics equipment." (See Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC.)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

    Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Cable Next-Gen Video Strategies: Meeting the Satellite & Telco TV Challenge, which will take a comprehensive look at the cable industry's attempts to fend off its leading rivals and generate fresh revenues by deploying next-generation video technologies. To be staged in Los Angeles, July 24, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

    (0)  | 
    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
  • Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
    From The Founder
    Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
    Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
    Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
    LRTV Custom TV
    Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

    11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

    Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
    Wagner’s Ring
    How Might Open Source Fail?

    11|24|15   |     |   (7) comments

    Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
    LRTV Custom TV
    NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

    11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

    Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
    Between the CEOs
    Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

    11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (1) comment

    Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

    11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

    Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
    Women in Comms Introduction Videos
    WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

    11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

    NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
    LRTV Documentaries
    Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

    11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

    Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

    11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

    Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
    Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
    SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

    11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

    Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

    11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

    Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

    11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

    The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    11|16|15   |   1:28   |   (0) comments

    Huawei, together with Ethiopia's Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, hosted the Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event gathered industry experts and senior executives of global electric power companies to discuss emerging industry trends including: improvements in new energy conversion efficiency, reduction of line losses ...
    Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
    Hot Topics
    Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
    Sprint Undercuts Rivals With Half-Price Offers
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/18/2015
    Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
    Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
    Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
    How Might Open Source Fail?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    December 15, 2015
    Virtualizing Cable Services
    Webinar Archive
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
    Mobily CEO Ahmad Farroukh talks to Steve Saunders about the realities of being a mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.
    Cats with Phones
    Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
    Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
    Live Digital Audio

    Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.