The "tuner resolver" adapter based on specifications that CableLabs announced – but did not release – two weeks ago will involve multiple implementations. It will also use MSO rather than retail channels.

The device is designed to allow one-way Digital Cable Ready (DCR) electronics using CableCards, such as TiVo digital video recorders (DVRs), to access cable operators’ switched digital video (SDV) channels.

In a statement released by the consortium, CableLabs President/CEO Dr. Richard Green said the adapter will solve the switched digital issue for Unidirectional Digital Cable-Ready Products (UDCPs), enabling customers to view all linear channels. Problem worth resolving According to Ralph Brown, CTO of CableLabs, back when one-way regulation was initially being discussed, the Consumer Electronics Association was pushing a straight digital television (DTV) agenda. At the same time, the cable industry was already looking ahead to two-way communication. The reason for this, Brown said, is that "DTV was not all that interesting," and "DVRs weren’t even a consideration then."

CEA persisted on the one-way digital front, and, as we know, the cable industry reluctantly agreed. Now that SDV has become an increasingly important and prevalent technology, the consumer electronic devices designed for compatibility with one-way signaling have become disenfranchised.

"TiVo brought the issue to the fore," Brown said. "They said they’d like to work with cable to resolve it." Solution comes into focus "Each cable operator has different technologies," Brown said. "Their network protocols are unique. They needed a system-specific way to signal upstream." CableLabs took the predominant lead in developing the solution that provides that functionality.

The process began in July 2007 when CableLabs gathered together focus groups of industry engineers and their associated contributions of intellectual property. Brown described that process as a "very productive exercise."

In addition to TiVO, other key industry players cited by CableLabs for both their initial and continuing participation include C-COR, Motorola and BigBand Networks.

The result, Brown said, was "one specification with different implementations." Test and release The adapter, in its current incarnation as a prototype, is undergoing testing alongside various UDCPs. Brown said the behavior of the UDCPs needs to be validated in terms of efficiency of SDV delivered over the devices.

Once certification is complete, the new adapters are not expected to be offered at retail but will enter the distribution chain via individual cable operators. Brown expects the adapters to reach consumers in the second quarter of 2008. As of yet, no specific pricing targets have been released. – Jennifer Rinaldi

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