Cable-Tec Expo 2009: Rogers Not Sold On Tru2way


Canada's Rogers Communications has not committed to adopting CableLabs' tru2way technology for interactive TV and "we think there's probably a better answer out there," said Dermot O'Carroll, senior vice president of engineering and network operations.

O'Carroll, speaking on the technology leaders panel at the opening general session here Wednesday at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo '09, said Rogers is looking to adopt an Internet-oriented interactive platform.

"We have the option of going with something more Web-based," O'Carroll said. "The challenge is, there's nothing [for interactive TV] based on open standards... We're right in the middle of that debate right now."

CableLabs president and CEO Paul Liao said that tru2way is a "very flexible platform" that could, for example, have an IP agent running on it.

"How quickly you move to that depends on your specific situation," he said. "My guess is the benefits of tru2way are so substantial that we'll see a lot of deployment."

Large U.S. cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, have committed to deploying tru2way support in a pact with the consumer-electronics industry. Comcast, for one, recently said it will complete its tru2way rollout by the end of 2009.

Meanwhile, O'Carroll addressed the technical challenges involved with Rogers' initial launch of TV Everywhere online-video services next month. He said initially the MSO will circumvent the complexity of integrating TV Everywhere with its billing systems by authenticating users based on their cable modem. Eventually Rogers will need another way of checking a subscriber's credentials, to reach other devices over other networks.

"How do you authenticate a mobile device that could be in Toronto today and Paris tomorrow?" O'Carroll said. "They still want to get their Maple Leafs hockey."

But to Charter Communications chief technology officer Marwan Fawaz, "the heavy lifting is on the business models" for TV Everywhere.

The panelists also discussed another major issue facing cable operators: the looming transition to IPv6, the next generation Internet protocol, which provides an astronomically large number of addresses but is incompatible with the existing IPv4.

Fawaz noted that the pool of IPv4 addresses is expected to be depleted before the end of 2011.

"It's not trivial. It's heavy lifting," Fawaz said. "Where we have a lot of confidence is in the core IP network. Where there are still challenges are having all our [equipment] in the field supporting IPv6 and IPv4 dual-stack."

The panel was moderated by Multichannel News contributor Leslie Ellis.