Video software

Telcos: Climb Aboard the Tru2way Train

CableLabs president and CEO Dr. Dick Green told telcos at NXTcomm 2008 that what's good for cable -- tru2way -- could be good for them, too.

Green said the platform, which aims to create an "open" retail market for digital set-tops and televisions through common headend and middleware components, isn't just for cable. Telcos are more than welcome to join the fun.

Green's prepared remarks, provided to us in written form by his PR handlers, emphasized that tru2way bolts in nicely with other global tech efforts. [Ed. note: We would have gone to the keynote in person but, disappointingly, discovered only too late that it wasn't located anywhere near our hotel pool. The nerve...]

Still, Green's thoughts are provocative. He points out, for example, that tru2way is based on an international ITU-T standard, and compatible with the European Multimedia Home Platform (MHP), as well as interactive television standards already used in Asia. Moreover, tru2way's Java core is also used for Bluray applications and "many" cellphone environments. So it's as much a telco platform as anything, right?

"The bottom line here is that tru2way is open; it is not exclusive to cable but is available to any multichannel provider that chooses to implement it on their network and in devices," Green said (or wrote, or was written to have said, or something). "Our combined platforms would certainly attract creative, interactive applications, and they would run on any system that supports the tru2way middleware interface."

It's clear, however, that cable will have a challenge on its hands trying to sell the notion of tru2way to the telcos. Two U.S. majors -- Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) -- gave tru2way a less than ringing endorsement just after The Cable Show. (See Do the Telcos Fear tru2way?)

From our LRTV archives, here is our interview with Green from The Cable Show 2008, followed by a video report focusing on tru2way itself (put some old Pink Floyd on the boom box and play'em both together):

One thought to soak on: Telcos may have to give tru2way a closer look based on the level of adoption by consumer electronics companies. A number of tru2way TV and set-top products are already out or in the works, and MSOs are already wiring their systems to support them. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), for example, has close to 1 million tru2way-enabled boxes deployed. (See MSOs Open Up on Tru2way.)

Additionally, the six largest U.S. cable MSOs and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) recently struck a "binding" memorandum of understanding (MOU) for tru2way. Two weeks later, another five companies -- Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) , Digeo Inc. , Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), and Samsung Corp. -- signed on. (See Sony Supports tru2way, Revealed: The Tru2way MOU, and More Firms Go the Way of Tru2way.)

There have been hiccups along the way. Panasonic reportedly failed in its bid to win certification for a tru2way-powered television, but CableLabs and the company believe there's still time to iron out the wrinkles so Panasonic can launch two sets -- a 42-incher and a 50-incher -- by this holiday season. (See Tru2way Troubles?)

The biggest hurdle for tru2way adoption by the telcos is this: tru2way, for the moment, is largely controlled by the cable industry. Another option under discussion is a system that would apply to all forms of multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs), including cable, the telcos, and satellite TV service providers. (See Brenner Defends OpenCable .)

— 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.

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