Light Reading

Revealed: The Tru2way MOU

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
6/12/2008
50%
50%

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
    Educational Resources
    sponsor supplied content
    Educational Resources Archive
    Flash Poll
    From The Founder
    Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
    Live Streaming Video
    BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
    Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
    LRTV Custom TV
    Red Hat Demo

    7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


    Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

    7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


    Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
    LRTV Custom TV
    The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

    7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


    Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Making Business Sense of SDN

    7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


    Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
    LRTV Custom TV
    NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

    7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


    Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
    LRTV Custom TV
    The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

    7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


    Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
    LRTV Custom TV
    It's (Real) Time for Analytics

    7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


    Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
    LRTV Documentaries
    IoT in Action

    6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (8) comments


    Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
    LRTV Interviews
    Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

    6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (1) comment


    Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
    LRTV Custom TV
    NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

    6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


    NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

    6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


    Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
    LRTV Custom TV
    ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

    6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


    As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
    Upcoming Live Events
    September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
    September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
    October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
    October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
    October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
    November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    Hot Topics
    Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
    What's a Gigabit Good For?
    Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
    Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
    Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    Webinar Archive
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
    Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
    Cats with Phones