Cable Operators

Tru2way: Cable’s Path to IP Video?

4/25/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Tru2way flopped as a technology designed
to let third-party consumer electronics devices tap into cable-
TV services without the need for a set-top — manufacturers
couldn’t justify the additional cost to embed it in their TVs .

But now, CableLabs’ Tru2way middleware platform is
poised to give operators a way to fling video from their own
boxes to other devices over Internet protocol.

At a recent CableLabs interoperability event, Tru2waybased
interactive-program guides from Comcast, Time Warner
Cable and Cox Communications delivered DVR content
over home networks to Internet-connected HDTVs, a Sony
PlayStation 3 video-game console and PCs.

DLNA CERTIFIED

Tru2way set-top makers in the mix were Cisco Systems, Motorola
and Samsung Electronics. Manufacturers of devices
certified for the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)
media-sharing specification were Samsung, Sony Computer
Entertainment America and Sony Electronics, while DLNA
technology component suppliers included Access Systems,
AwoX, Irdeto and NDS. Microsoft also participated.

“The Tru2way specifications enable delivery of cable services
to IP-based devices in the home that are DLNA-compliant,”
Amol Bhagwat, CableLabs’ senior architect for home
networking, said.

Conceivably, a DLNA-based app for the Apple iPad could be
used with Tru2way-based set-top boxes to let a cable subscriber
access live TV or DVR content over their home network.

That’s a use case
some programmers
have objected
to as outside the
bounds of existing
distribution deals.
Viacom, for one, is
suing Time Warner
Cable over that operator’s
iPad app, arguing that it doesn’t have the rights to deliver
programming in that manner. TWC is seeking a court
ruling determining that it does.

The CableLabs event, held March 28 to April 1 at the consortium’s
Louisville, Colo., headquarters, used IPGs from Comcast,
Cox and TWC that integrate Tru2way technology with
multiroom digital video recording capability.

The demo showed premium DVR content shared over a
home network among multiple Tru2way set-top boxes and
DLNA devices, via the secure DTCP-IP (Digital Transmission
Content Protection over IP) protocol.

It was the first time Comcast’s Tru2way-based guide, which
is based on CableLabs’ open-source Tru2way middleware
reference implementation, was used in a home networking
interop. “Comcast is very pleased to see our program guide
running on set-top boxes that have integrated the Tru2way
reference implementation software,” Comcast senior vice
president of premises technology Steve Reynolds said.

The devices on the home network communicated and
shared content using Ethernet, MoCA 1.1 (Multimedia over
Coax Alliance) or Wi-Fi.

According to CableLabs, the DLNA Interoperability Guidelines
are the foundation of Tru2way’s home-networking specifications. CableLabs joined the DLNA last December as a
promoter member.

SMARTPHONE REMOTE

Because Tru2way complies with with DLNA, standard DLNA
apps can turn virtually any smartphone into a remote control
for the Tru2way-based guides. Using Motorola’s DLNA app for
the Droid and AwoX’s DLNA app for the iPhone, the interop’s
participants selected content from a set-top and controlled
playback on another device (such as a TV) with pause, rewind
and fast-forward functions.

To date, Tru2way — the consumer-facing brand of the
OpenCable Application Platform — has been focused on
delivering traditional QAM programming to set-tops. But it
could be adapted for IPTV, CableLabs CEO Paul Liao said in a
recent interview. “Because Tru2way is a programmable platform,
it’s very easy to add IP to a set-top box,” he said. “You’re
going to see Tru2way play a big part in the transition [by cable
operators to IP video].”

September