Tru2way: Epic Fail at Retail
LR Cable Reports Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading 1/4/2011
In the first CES keynote to feature a cable exec, Comcast's Brian Roberts talked up tru2way, the new consumer-facing brand of the OpenCable Platform, promoting an industry commitment to "openness," and a proclamation that the "age of the closed proprietary set-top box is behind us."
Cable continued the tru2way push at The Cable Show in New Orleans, with demos galore on the floor, and new set-top entrants from the retail end of the CE world that would throw some weight at the platform, including Funai Electric Co. Ltd. (OTC: FUAIY), which makes equipment under the Sylvania and Emerson brands. The show also served as an event suitable to reveal Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) as the first (and only) vendor to obtain tru2way certification for a set-top. (See ADB Scores tru2way Certification and ADB Develops Tru2way 'Set-Back'.)
In a blow to DCR+, an alternative interactive platform favored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and a handful of CE firms, Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and the six largest "incumbent" US MSOs ink a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to build "common reliance" for tru2way between the cable and consumer electronics industries.
Light Reading is the first to reveal the details of the Sony MOU, which gave five MSOs -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Bright House Networks -- until July 1, 2009, to get their headends tru2way-ready. Financially troubled Charter Communications Inc. got an extra year to meet its obligation.
Speaking at NXTcomm 2008, CableLabs President and CEO Dr. Dick Green urges telcos to adopt tru2way, arguing that it's not exclusive to cable because it's based on an international ITU-T standard and uses Java components that are core to the Blu-ray platform. The telcos ignore him.
During a keynote Q&A at a Light Reading event in Los Angeles, Mark Cuban echoes some CE industry concerns about tru2way, claiming it has "got to become more open. Right now it's a definitive walled garden."
Despite cable's claims that tru2way is "open," Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) tells the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it's just the opposite, holding that tru2way is proprietary to cable and not compatible with other video provider networks, including FiOS. However, Verizon does show some interest in the creation of a system that could apply to all forms of multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) -- an idea that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) had suggested earlier to the FCC, and brought up again in a letter to the Commission later in the month. (See NCTA Counters Verizon's Tru2way Claims .)
Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) begins selling two tru2way-certified HD sets -- 42-inch and 50-inch models -- in select Abt Electronics, Ultimate Electronics, and Circuit City Stores Inc. outlets in Comcast's Denver and Chicago markets. Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the following month, complicating the tru2way effort.
Next page: 2009 – A Missed Date & Other Tru2way Troubles
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