Vendors Support Interoperable Euro Boxes


London -- In what is a sort of European version of
OpenCable, nine manufacturers teamed up at the annual European Cable Communications show
here last week to announce their pursuit of interoperable set-top boxes.

Calling themselves the DVB/DAVIC Interoperability
Consortium, the team consists of Alcatel Alsthom S.A., COCOM, DiviCom Inc., Hughes Network
Systems, Nokia Multimedia Network Terminals, Sagem, Simac Broadband Technologies, Thomson
Broadcast Systems and Thomson Multimedia.

The title refers to the European Digital Video Broadcast
and Digital Audio/Video Council standards-setting groups.

The companies said the group's goal is to "build
the market for broadband interactivity over hybrid fiber-coaxial networks."

Specifically, the DVB/DAVIC Interoperability Consortium
aims to enable product interoperability so that interactive services running on HFC and
wireless cable systems will work with one another, based on DVB and DAVIC standards.

Interoperability, in turn, translates into a broader choice
of technology solutions for cable-network operators, as well as into economies of scale
that lower prices and expand the market, officials said.

Also at the ECC show, consortium members segmented
themselves into three functional areas: headend-transmission systems, set-tops and cable

Gregers Kronborg, newly appointed chairman of the DVB/DAVIC
Interoperability Consortium, said he believes that DVB and DAVIC "are the best
standards for the provision of products for interactive video, audio, data and voice

Others involved in the project -- like Ulrich Reimers,
chairman of the technical module of the DVB project -- were already positioning the
consortium against other international interoperability efforts, like OpenCable.

"I have no doubt that the cable operators of Europe
and many other parts of the world will soon realize that DVB-DAVIC will be their best
choice," Reimers said.