2008 CABLE SHOW: TiVo SDV Adapters Ready For Testing, Not Customers

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NEW ORLEANS—Cisco Systems and Motorola have submitted adapters that let TiVos and other devices access switched digital video channels to CableLabs for qualification testing, but exactly when they’ll be available from operators remains unclear.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association and TiVo said both adapters worked in informal interoperability tests with TiVo HD digital video recorders.

But pending CableLabs approval, the NCTA will say only that the SDV adapters will be available “in the coming months.” Originally, the group said the devices would be available by mid-2008.

Nor is it clear whether operators will charge for the TiVo SDV units. “The [operators] will have to address that question,” NCTA vice president of communications Brian Dietz said.

Still, the parties involved claim to be encouraged with the project’s progress.

“This undertaking is a significant step forward in our ongoing relationship with the cable industry to develop technology and provide solutions that improve the television experience of cable subscribers,” TiVo CEO and president Tom Rogers said, in a statement.

NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow’s statement was also congratulatory: “The ability to turn concept into reality this quickly is a testament to how closely cable operators, CableLabs, TiVo and other cable vendors have worked over the last several months to develop this first-of-its-kind marketplace solution.”

In other words, according to the cable industry, the Federal Communications Commission does not need to hand down new regulations to ensure that two-way cable services work with CE devices.

The cable industry would like tru2way (the consumer brand for OpenCable) to become the standard for third-party devices to access interactive services. The Consumer Electronics Association has proposed another scheme, and the FCC is currently considering its course of action on the issue.

The SDV adapters for TiVos are expected to be offered by operators including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems in areas where they have deployed switched digital video technology (or plan to). The cable operators and TiVo plan to work cooperatively to alert TiVo subscribers about the availability of and need for the new external adapter with the goal of making installation of the adapter and CableCards as easy as possible.

TiVo DVRs communicate with Cisco’s STA1520 or Motorola’s MTR700 tuning adapters via a USB connector. TiVo has modified its DVR software to communicate with the external tuning adapters, which is also subject to CableLabs’ verification testing.

TiVo HD DVRs attached to Motorola external adapters will be on display in CableLabs’ CableNET showcase and at the Motorola booth at the Cable Show.

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