Sony Drives ADB's Set-Back

Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) has all but identified itself as the TV maker that's signed on to distribute a new tru2way-based "set-back box" from Advanced Digital Broadcast (ADB) that CableLabs certified earlier this year. (See ADB Develops Tru2way 'Set-Back'.)

Sony revealed as much in a Nov. 21 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing that seeks to oppose any attempts that place further "obligations" on cable operators when it comes to adopting tru2way.

The filing notes that Sony "demonstrated the first fully-certified tru2way 'set-back box'" at the 2008 Custom Electronic Design & Installation Design (CEDIA) show in Denver. There, Sony showed the device as a "plug-in module mounted on the rear of Sony Bravia TVs and providing the full range of interactive tru2way services via the Bravia's remote control."

Earlier this month, ADB told Cable Digital News that it has already started to ship the new box to an unnamed consumer electronics partner.

Sony didn't identify the box maker by name, but ADB, thus far, is the only company to obtain certification for a tru2way set-top box. And that product, the 4820C, is a slender, TV-mountable, interactive set-top that houses a CableCARD slot and a Docsis return path. We aren't rocket scientists, but even we figured this one out.

Sony submitted the letter to further illustrate its support for tru2way. Although Sony had once been in favor of a rival interactive platform called DCR+, it has since come to terms with the six largest incumbent cable operators -- 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 -- on the tru2way memorandum of understanding (MOU).

According to the binding terms of that MOU, the MSOs have agreed to some significant tru2way-related commitments. Among them, the founding MSOs have pledged to provide network support for tru2way middleware and also to support tru2way in the headends serving all digital cable systems by July 1, 2009. Charter's commitment is deferred until July 1, 2010.

Those operators have also agreed that 20 percent of their new interactive set-top boxes will use tru2way until there are, in the aggregate, 10 million such boxes in the marketplace -- a commitment that Sony qualifies as "reasonable common reliance." (See Revealed: The Tru2way MOU and Sony Supports tru2way.)

Sony has yet to introduce any tru2way TVs or set-tops of its own. For now, it appears that Sony plans to address the interactive cable retail market by coupling some of its Bravia models with ADB's set-back box.

Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), meanwhile, has already received CableLabs certification for two tru2way TVs -- a 42-inch and a 50-inch model. It's selling those models at retail in Denver and Chicago in tandem with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and a handful of consumer retail outlets. (See Denver, Chicago First to Get Tru2way TVs.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:26:11 PM
re: Sony Drives ADB's Set-Back Eh, I still kinda like Amino's approach of making the set-top colorful and iMac-looking, so you're proud to show it off. Lime green! Ultra pink!

In the long run, a TV with the set-top embedded probably wins out over either approach, though.
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