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Rogers Seeks Tru2way Alternative

Jeff Baumgartner
10/28/2009

DENVER -- SCTE Cable-Tec Expo -- Although some of the largest U.S. cable operators are committed to wiring their networks for tru2way, it doesn't look like Canadian MSO Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) intends to join the party.

In fact, the MSO thinks there are far better answers out there as it begins to develop an advanced interactive platform that will feed in new applications and include fancier, more intuitive user interfaces.

"We're right in the middle of that debate now," Rogers senior VP of engineering and network operations Dermot O'Carroll said at this morning's opening general session, noting that the MSO is looking at systems that use Web-based technology. "The challenge is that there's really nothing available that [uses] open standards."

But it's growing quite clear that tru2way won't factor into those plans. "We are looking for an alternative," O'Carroll said.

Rogers has much more leeway in this area than some, because it's not saddled with the U.S. government mandate banning integrated set-top security. Many U.S. MSOs are adhering to that ban with set-tops that use the removable CableCARD security module. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

Six of the largest incumbent U.S. operators have agreed to wire up their networks for tru2way as part of a binding memorandum of understanding originally negotiated with Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE). Comcast, one of those MOU signees, recently said it planned to have its systems tru2way-enabled by year's end, about six months after the deadline set forth in the original agreement. (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU, Comcast Wired for Tru2way by Year's End , and No Penalties for Missing Tru2way Date.)

Charter Communications Inc. , another MOU signee, has until next July to complete the job, and it intends to make good on that commitment, CTO Marwan Fawaz said. But Charter also expects to port all its tru2way and Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) applications to an IP distribution platform. "It's not an either/or for us," Fawaz said.

New CableLabs president and CEO Paul Liao was quick to defend the long-term prospects for tru2way even as MSOs continue to warm to IP-based interactive platforms. (See Liao Puts the CE in CableLabs.)

"It's a very flexible platform," he said, noting that it could easily add agents supporting IP applications. "My guess... is the benefits of tru2way are so substantial that we'll see a lot of deployments."

Like Rogers, a growing number of small- and mid-sized operators are mulling alternatives to tru2way, holding that the high costs and complexities involved are best left to larger operators. (See Another Operator Shuns Tru2way and Evolution Passes on Tru2way .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News




Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to TelcoTV 2009, the telecom industry’s premier event for the exploration of a comprehensive entertainment convergence strategy, to be staged in Orlando, Fla., November 10-12. For more information, or to register, click here.


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