Time Warner Opens Up Motorola Boxes

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Time Warner Cable is preparing to download software to millions of set-top boxes, which could allow subscribers to access dozens of interactive features from a live TV channel with one click on a remote control.

Through a deal with OpenTV Corp., Time Warner customers could wind up pulling up the names and numbers of telephone callers or a news clip while in the midst of watching a regular television show. The one-touch access to TV services will be made possible by OpenTV software that will be placed in 4 million Motorola Inc. digital set-top boxes in Time Warner households.

OpenTV’s software will allow the cable operator to deploy its new Digital Navigator interactive program guide on the Motorola boxes. Time Warner will use the guide as a gateway to offer interactive content and services.

Chief technology officer Mike LaJoie said Time Warner will also deploy Digital Navigator to set-tops from Scientific Atlanta Inc. — which are deployed in New York and on other major systems — later this year.

OpenTV CEO Jim Chiddix said his company’s software will also allow Time Warner to deploy its new Digital Navigator and interactive TV services on Adelphia Communications Corp. cable systems, including those in Los Angeles, parts of Ohio, upstate New York and Maine, which Time Warner expects to acquire later this year.

“It really is about Time Warner’s guide,” said Chiddix, who was CTO at Time Warner before joining OpenTV in 2004. “They need a way initially to port [Navigator] to the Motorola base. That’s where we come in.”

The Digital Navigator emerged from the development of Time Warner’s MystroTV project, LaJoie said. That project, which was led by Chiddix when he was in charge of Time Warner’s cable technology, was designed to deliver video-on-demand content from dozens of TV networks.

Time Warner right now is testing Navigator on two of its cable systems, which LaJoie declined to locate. He said Navigator will launch commercially on several systems later this year.

A key feature on the Navigator guide is its “access menu.”

When subscribers view channels such as Cable News Network, CNBC or The Weather Channel, they’ll be able to hit the select button on their remotes to quickly access on-demand content from the programmers, in addition to video clips from their Web sites, LaJoie said.

OpenTV and Navigator could also allow Time Warner subscribers to access interactive games, program digital video recorders with mobile phones or put feeds from multiple networks on a single screen.

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