CableLabs has issued a request for information to define elements for a common technical approach -- with the goal of using existing standards and specifications -- that would enable consumers to have secure online access to subscription video services delivered by any provider, a concept referred to in the industry as "TV Everywhere."
CableLabs said the objective of the RFI, which is available at http://www.cablelabs.com/nda/online_access_rfi_nda.html, is to have technology suppliers help define the technical requirements and architecture necessary to "enable online access to subscription cable TV video services involving both multiple programmers and multiple multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs)."
The deadline for responses from vendors is Dec. 11.
"We are issuing this RFI at the strong urging of our members," CableLabs president and CEO Paul Liao said. "It is their belief that a common technical approach will offer greater choice to consumers, and will enable competition among technology providers to support the market."
Comcast has engaged in a 5,000-subscriber trial of On Demand Online, and the MSO has said it expects to launch the service commercially to all cable TV and high-speed Internet customers before the end of 2009. Initially, however, the On Demand Online service will be available only to subscribers in their own homes, and only from Comcast's Fancast and Comcast.net portals.
In a statement Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said, "I am greatly encouraged that this RFI and CableLabs efforts will provide the technical tools to our industry and other multichannel programming providers to offer high-quality video online."
For his part, Time Warner Cable president and CEO Glenn Britt commented, "This work by CableLabs will be consistent with the high level service goals that we at Time Warner Cable announced last June. Our intention is to make this technology open and non-exclusive." TWC has begun a TV Everywhere trial with about a dozen network partners.
CableLabs said key components of the "TV Everywhere" RFI include broad areas such as service architecture, technical interface specifications, resource attributes specifications, infrastructure components and security.
Among CableLabs' guiding principles for a common way to access online TV services are: providing technology solutions with the highest level of security possible "to enable consumer choice and convenience, while protecting consumer privacy," and to enable both the delivery of ad-supported and subscription-based programming online.