LAS VEGAS -- The cable industry is stepping up the lobbying for its two-way technology by changing the name of its OpenCable Platform middleware to "tru2way" -- a moniker that's also an implicit dig at the Consumer Electronics Association's rival proposal for opening up access to interactive cable services.
The new name, announced here at the CEA's International Consumer Electronics Show, is ostensibly intended to be more consumer-friendly and descriptive than OpenCable.
CableLabs said most cable operators plan to advertise, use and support the tru2way technology, although the use of the brand on devices capable of receiving interactive cable services is voluntary for manufacturers. The specification defines Java-based middleware that allows set-top boxes, TVs or other devices to receive two-way cable services, like video on demand and interactive advertising.
But the "tru2way" name also appears to be part of the industry's campaign before the Federal Communications Commission, to underscore cable's position that the CableLabs-developed standard is the only "true" way forward.
The FCC is considering adopting a rule that would require the cable industry to support a common means of accessing interactive services. The CEA has proposed "digital cable ready plus," an extension to the CableCard security devices, that would provide basic access to interactive cable services, including video-on-demand, electronic programming guides, pay-per-view programming and switched digital video channels.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association says tru2way/OpenCable -- unlike DCR+ -- has the backing of every major cable operator as well as big CE manufacturers like Panasonic and Samsung, and isn't locked into a limited set of predefined services. CEA says cable's two-way technology is overkill for lower-end products, tantamount to putting a personal computer in a TV set, and has claimed DCR+ would be a far simpler and cost-effective approach.
Major cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems, have committed to deploying support for the tru2way platform in service areas covering 91 million U.S. homes in 145 markets by the end of 2008. The tru2way/OpenCable technology has been licensed to two dozen manufacturers and developers, including LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung Electronics, Broadcom and Intel.
In a related announcement Monday, Comcast and Panasonic debuted a new portable digital video recorder, the AnyPlay P-DVR, which uses the tru2way specification, and said Panasonic will ship a tru2way-enabled plasma HDTV in 2008.
CableLabs also launched a new Web site, tru2way.com, which provides information about the specification and related developments.
Tru2way is the technology's second name change in six months. Last year National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Kyle McSlarrow prompted the industry to call what had been referred to as the OpenCable Application Platform -- or OCAP -- simply the "OpenCable Platform."
In a keynote last June at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers' Cable-Tec Expo, McSlarrow complained about OCAP and said he had officially banned NCTA staff from uttering the acronym.
“I know we in Washington are also guilty of jargon, but this is really a case where the acronym completely hides the ball,” McSlarrow said in his June speech. “We should be proud of what this platform represents.”
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, CableLabs filed for trademark protection on "tru2way" on Nov. 30, 2007.
The tru2way brand was developed by the global brand consulting firm Siegel + Gale, in consultation with the NCTA, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and marketing and technology representatives from major cable providers.