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Half of US Cable Subscribers Will Have “tru2way” by 2013

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 02, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Wireless Service

To create a more competitive market in the United States, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 required cable operators to open up their specifications. The result was OCAP, the Open Cable Applications Platform, recently rebranded “tru2way”. Any device with a tru2way compliant receiver can receive premium cable TV programming on any operator’s network with the appropriate CableCARD. This means any STB vendor can build a tru2way-compliant device and compete for cable operators’ business, and CE manufacturers can embed them in TV’s or other devices for retail.

Operators are finally starting to deploy tru2way STBs and in 2013 about half of all US cable subscribers will have a tru2way STB. But according to ABI Research principal analyst Steve Wilson, many industry-political obstacles and interoperability challenges must be overcome along the way.

“Consumer electronics manufacturers have been at odds with the cable industry over tru2way for a long time,” says Wilson. “It’s been a pretty contentious era. Vendors say the implementation is too expensive and that it’s overkill for basic services. They point out that many cable operators aren’t even deploying these systems. The cable operators themselves won’t provide forecasts for tru2way STB deployments. They’re not willing to tell the market (or developers) how many boxes they expect to ship over time.”

Tru2way is a double-edged sword for operators. On one hand, cable operators want to “own” the customer’s entire user experience and they aren’t ready to allow others to start loading applications into the STB. On the other, an open cable standard will reduce the tremendous cost burden custom systems and STBs place on the entire cable business.

But what may prove the biggest challenge is interoperability. “There’s no real interoperability testing, and no industry group focused on making sure that all the devices brought to market will work in all cable systems,” warns Wilson. “If applications and devices aren’t portable across cable systems, a retail market will never appear and operators will continue to carry the burden of STBs. “ [ABI Research]

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