Sony And Six Largest Cable MSOs Reach Agreement On Two-Way Cable

Well, this could be the end of the push for DCR+. Sony had been the big name still pushing for DCR+, as opposed to OCAP/tru2way. Well, it seems that’s no longer the case. Sony has come to an agreement with the six largest cable MSOs in the US, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks, which collectively server 82% of US cable subscribers, over 105 million US homes. The national two-way cable agreement will see Sony supporting tru2way under streamlined licensing agreements. Other consumer electronics companies have been invited to join the agreement as well.

So it looks like OCAP/tru2way will end up the industry standard, and the DCR+ push is likely to fade away now. The full terms of the Memorandum of Understanding that covers the agreement have not yet been released, giving other potential signatories time to review it. I’ll keep an eye out for those terms once they’ve been released.

I’m just glad to see an apparent end to the stalemate. If the CE industry in general embraces tru2way then it opens the floodgates for more advanced cable products for consumers, which is a good thing.

The press release announcing the agreement is below.


David MigdalBrian Dietz

Sony Electronics and Major U.S. Cable Operators Negotiate National “Two-Way” Plug and Play Solution

Agreement Establishes Platform for Retail Devices to Receive Interactive Cable Services

WASHINGTON, DC, May 27, 2008 – Sony Electronics and major cable operators which together pass over 105 million U.S. homes have negotiated and signed an agreement that will enable consumers to purchase innovative “two-way” digital televisions and other devices that can receive interactive digital and high-definition video services without a set-top box, Sony and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) announced today. The terms of the agreement are embodied in a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated by Sony Electronics and the six largest cable companies – Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks – which serve more than 82 percent of all U.S. cable subscribers.

Other consumer electronics companies will be beneficiaries of this new national two-way “plug-and-play” platform and have also been invited to formally join the MOU.

This negotiated industry agreement establishes the fundamentals for a competitive retail market for “two-way” digital cable-ready devices. It addresses how such products will be brought to market with interactive services like video-on-demand, digital video recording and interactive programming guides.

In addition, the agreement makes it clear that consumers will be able to enjoy a choice of differentiated two-way products at retail and through cable operators from a variety of consumer electronics and information technology manufacturers. The agreement includes safeguards to facilitate the development of a robust, two-way retail market and to ensure that cable operators can continue to develop and offer new competitive services.

Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA), a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the leading advocates in Congress for new technology and consumer freedoms said: “I congratulate Sony and the major cable operators for achieving consensus on a set of core principles that will speed the introduction of new two-way plug-and-play devices.” Representative Boucher added: “With this groundbreaking compromise, these industry-leading companies and other major cable companies will ensure that consumers will have broader access to innovative competitive cable ready navigation devices from commercial retailers and will have expanded options to enjoy cable programming, including video on demand and other interactive programming options.”

As part of the agreement, the parties will adopt: the Java-based “tru2way” solution as the national interactive “plug-and-play” standard; new streamlined technology licenses; and new ways for content providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, information technology companies and cable operators to cooperate in evolving the tru2way technology at Cable Television Laboratories (CableLabs), the cable industry’s research and development consortium.

The agreement will encourage the development and distribution of interactive and high-value digital content. Key elements of the agreement relate to the deployment of a platform for “write once, run anywhere” applications, and to the incorporation of secure digital interfaces that protect consumers’ home recording rights along with copyright owners’ rights to secure their digital content. Detailed terms of the MOU have not yet been released, while other potential signatories complete their review of the document.

“This marketplace agreement is good news for consumers,” said Edgar Tu, Sony Electronics’ Senior Vice President of TV Operations of America. “A national plug-and-play digital cable standard for interactive TV receivers, recorders and other products that is transferable and viable wherever you live is ideal for today’s mobile society.”

“This is a landmark agreement which will provide a national, open and interactive platform resulting in more choices of services and products for consumers,” said Kyle McSlarrow, NCTA President & CEO.

“We are pleased that this technical challenge has been addressed through a voluntary, private-sector solution,” said Consumer Electronics Association President and CEO Gary Shapiro. “We look forward to working with our cable colleagues to ensure Americans across the country have access to high value cable content while using the equipment of their choosing.”


NCTA is the principal trade association for the U.S. cable industry, representing cable operators serving more than 90 percent of the nation’s cable television households and more than 200 cable program networks. The cable industry is the nation’s largest broadband provider of high-speed Internet access after investing more than $130 billion to build a two-way interactive network with fiber optic technology. Cable companies also provide state-of-the-art digital telephone service to millions of American consumers.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Glenn

    Not convinced yet.

    I still don’t understand how this resolves the SDV issue? Obviously you’ll still need a CableCard in your TV to decode the channels, and that CableCard will have to be rented from your cable company and be of the right type (SA or Mot). But how will channel changing work? I can’t imagine it will involve invoking cable company java software downloaded onto the TV, but that *must* be what it means. And perhaps not just cable company software, but cable company GUI software, with slow performane and …

    Perhaps you can clarify Megazone?

  • MegaZone

    Any box that has tru2way has to have the transceiver hardware for bidirectional communication. And one of the platform requirements for tru2way is that the firmware on the box support SDV. So it is a lower level than OCAP, it is down at the platform level.