Sony Deal Advances Cable’s Two-Way Plan

May 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The cable industry is unveiling a major move toward expanding two-way services with a deal with Sony Electronics that will bring to market next-generation TV sets incorporating interactive capabilities next year.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced the agreement today, saying it was signed by major cable system providers serving 82% of cable households, including Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks.
The deal could give a big kick to the rollout of interactive sets that let viewers look at cable guides, download programs or go to related content without using a cable box. By increasing the number of homes with the capability for the service, it also could lead to more services, ads and interactive programming being offered by cable providers and cable channels.
Like licensing deals signed by other set-top makers, the latest pact anticipates the cable industry switch to Tru2way, a Java-based computer program standard for future interactive services. (Tru2way is the new name for what was once the OpenCable platform.) Panasonic Corp. of America, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Digeo have said they will offer TVs incorporating the technology.
The latest agreement, however, adds a new wrinkle by including a “memorandum of agreement” mandating that cable industry providers support Tru2way and quickly—by July 1, 2009.
The cable industry had agreed on the Tru2way standard but hadn’t seemed to be rushing to roll it out. Currently, only Time Warner Cable offers set-top boxes that use it, and those boxes are in only 900,000 homes. The Federal Communications Commission had been looking at steps it could take to speed the availability of two-way technology.
The pact means the other providers are committing to incorporating the technology.
“This is a landmark agreement which will provide a national, open and interactive platform, resulting in more choices of services and products for consumers,” said Kyle McSlarrow, NCTA president-CEO.
“This marketplace agreement is good news for consumers,” said Edgar Tu, Sony Electronics’ senior VP of TV operations. “A national plug-and-play digital cable standard for interactive TV receivers, recorders and other products that is transferable and viable wherever you live is ideal for today’s mobile society.”

One Comment

  1. I have called your 800 number twice and nobody seems to know anything about this. Is July 2009 still the introductory date? Why don’t your employees have any information?

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