European iTV Standard
& SCTE developing application platform that partly
a modest move with tremendous implications, the Society
of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has formed a
new standards-development group, the Cable Applications
Platform (CAP) Subcommittee. They hope to make U.S. cable
set-tops compatible with the world DVB-MHP standard for
interactive TV applications.
subcommittee chair Jean-Pol Zundel, the chief software
architect for Comcast Cable, "The committee was formed to
explore the need for SCTE involvement in channeling the
OpenCable process toward having one set of standard APIs
[application interfaces] for all interactive TV
applications on the set-top-box."
The DVB-MHP group
in Europe has worked hard in creating an open standard
for the interface of all interactive television
applications, he said, "so there's no reason to reinvent
the wheel. And it would be nice if there was one
worldwide standard for interactive TV. Content creators
could produce their interactive programming once and know
that it would work properly within any set-top on
"Our goal is to
create open standards that assures a level playing field
for every interactive TV vendor," said Zundel. "That's
why we are talking to the five top interactive TV
software players in the U.S. and Europe -- OpenTV,
Canal+, Liberate, Microsoft, and PowerTV."
Engineering Committee approved formation of the CAP
subcommittee in early April. CAP held its first meeting
April 24 at CableLabs in Louisville, Colo. Convened
before SCTE had formally announced the initiative, the
open meeting attracted 22 individuals representing 11
organizations, mostly cable operators and suppliers.
introductions, the first CAP subcommittee meeting mainly
reviewed the standards development process of the
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the
International Telecommunications Union's television
discussed how to coordinate CAP's efforts with the
Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) and the
section of the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project
responsible for the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP)
standard, already adopted in the UK and W. Europe where
the interactive TV business is flourishing.
CAP is an outgrowth
of the request for proposals (RFP) issued last summer by
CableLabs for interoperable software on OpenCable set-top
boxes. "The responses CableLabs received by September had
moved things closer to a definition of the OpenCable
API," said Zundel, "but Dick Green [CableLabs'
CEO] felt it was time we had a standards committee to
channel that work."
CableLabs is not a
standards-making organization like SCTE, which has more
than 17,000 members in the U.S. and 70 other countries,
so CAP was formed under SCTE in affiliation with
CableLabs. Once complete, CableLabs will own the CAP
standard and license it to anyone interested in OpenCable
Applications Platform, as now conceived, would feature an
ATVEF-friendly presentation engine (PE) running HTML or
running pure Java and the Java-TV APIs developed by the
DVB-MHP body, as implemented by OpenTV. The bridge
between the two engines will be a Document Object Model
(DOM) that lets the Java EE access all the HTML and
The next CAP'
meeting will be Wednesday, 9 Aug. 2000 at the Lionshead
Marriott in Vail, Colo. from 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone may
attend. For info, please contact Ted
this story in 2000, CableLabs adopted HMP for the
OpenCable specification,thereby helping to harmonize
America to world iTV standards based on DVB.