tru2way Signs Up Samsung
The revised license also sets the stage for Consumer Electronics (CE) companies to "self-certify" their products as well as to obtain "paper certification" for more cosmetic changes to TVs and set-tops powered by tru2way, a platform designed to give cable a common middleware and headend footprint and to jump start a retail market for interactive digital boxes and TVs.
The cable industry officially introduced tru2way as a consumer brand in January at the Consumer Electronics Show. It previously was known as the OpenCable Platform. (See Cable's 'tru2way' Play .)
In addition to giving a trademark license to the tru2way brand and approving new digital outputs via a "4-Studio" approach, the agreement attempts to simplify the process by combining two other CableLabs licenses: the CableCARD Host Licensing Agreement (Chila) and the OpenCable Application Platform Implementer Agreement. Licenses for both are required for any tru2way device, according to Jud Cary, the vice president of technology policy and deputy general counsel of CableLabs.
Although Samsung is the first to sign the new tru2way accord, several other CE companies, including LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC), Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo: 6502), Digeo Inc. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), have already signed the Chila and OpenCable licenses.
"We would like to get everyone moved over to this," Cary says of the streamlined agreement. "It's a lot cleaner."
The revised agreement comes about two weeks ahead of The Cable Show, which is placing a heavy emphasis on tru2way by way of product demos and a two-day tru2way developers conference. CableLabs says "major" U.S. cable MSOs have committed to support tru2way on systems covering more than 90 million homes by year-end.
Cable is also trying to demonstrate to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a willingness to work with CE companies more openly in the face of a competing effort favored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) called DCR+. (See Two-Way Battle Reaches FCC, Slideshow: On the Hunt for 'tru2way' at CES , CES: Roberts Declares Open Season, and Brenner Defends OpenCable .)
Stephen Goldstein, the director of business development for Samsung Electronics America, says his company is working on some "substantive announcements" related to tru2way but declined to relay any model-specific details Samsung has in store for TVs and set-tops. Samsung, he said, will demonstrate some of its tru2way-based gear at this month's cable confab.
"The [tru2way] license agreement is just a logical extension of the work we have already been doing," Goldstein said of Samsung's efforts in the North American cable market. "Tru2way really fits our overall integrated television strategy. It's not just about the industrial design or picture quality. It's also about giving consumers the ability to enjoy interactive applications."
While retail distribution is key to Samsung's tru2way strategy, the company has already made some progress with its direct-to-MSO set-top efforts. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks are already leasing out Samsung-made high-definition cable boxes. In January 2006, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) agreed to purchase as many as 700,000 digital boxes from Samsung under the MSO's Residential Network Gateway (RNG) project.
Among other high profile tru2way projects, Panasonic is working on portable digital video recorder for Comcast to lease out; it's due to be launched early next year. (See Comcast, Panasonic Unveil Portable DVR .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News