Cable MSOs Take a Shortcut to Compete with Telco IPTV, Report Finds

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Interactive TV services based on EBIF will enable cable operators to compete with telco IPTV before tru2way is available, says Light Reading’s Cable Industry Insider

NEW YORK — Rather than wait for tru2way to fully develop, cable operators are planning to roll out interactive TV services to compete with telco IPTV by deploying an existing technology that can deliver interactive features to legacy set-tops now being used by customers, according to the latest report published by Light Reading’s Cable Industry Insider, a subscription research service from TechWeb’s Light Reading.

‘EBIF: Cable’s Practical Approach to Interactive TV’ examines the prospects and challenges of using Enhanced Binary Interface Format (EBIF) to deliver interactive TV services and profiles 19 suppliers that support EBIF activity in various ways. It includes an assessment of EBIF capabilities, pros and cons, deployment projections, the competition for interactive TV, and strategies and plans by MSOs, programmers, and suppliers.

“EBIF represents the most promising opportunity for interactive TV on cable to date,” notes Craig Leddy, research analyst with Light Reading’s Cable Industry Insider and author of the report. “While tru2way requires new set-top boxes, cable operators can add EBIF to legacy digital set-tops and remain competitive with services such as Verizon FiOS TV, which is using its own version of EBIF to launch a wave of widgets.”

EBIF deployments are widely viewed as a transitional initiative that will give way to tru2way once that technology is ready for mass-market deployment, Leddy says. “EBIF will serve as a warmup for tru2way, where richer apps can flourish in a Java-based OpenCable Application Platform [OCAP] environment,” he explains.

Key findings of ‘EBIF: Cable’s Practical Approach to Interactive TV’ include the following:

  • About 15 million set-tops will be enabled for EBIF by year end, an amount that will nearly double in 2010.
  • New specs (IO5) and a brand identity are in the offing to expand EBIF capabilities and awareness.
  • Canoe Ventures plans to deploy an EBIF interactive advertising tool in the fourth quarter, and cable networks are trialing bound apps in programming.
  • While EBIF only enables simple ITV, suppliers are seeking to use it as a gateway for IP, mobile, VoD, advanced advertising, and other robust platforms.

‘EBIF: Cable’s Practical Approach to Interactive TV’ is available as part of an annual subscription (six issues) to Light Reading’s Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,295. Individual reports are available for $900.