For some developers in the interactive TV (ITV) space, the post dot-com winter was long and cold – even inhospitably "nuclear."

Notwithstanding today’s financial chill, the thaw in interactivity is now several years underway. Technology companies that survived by adjusting to service provider priorities are generating renewed activity in this space.
Seasonal shifts This week’s sign of spring includes the news that Atlanta-based interactive testing and development firm itaas has joined forces with Denver’s Comcast Media Center to support the CMC’s Headend in the Sky (HITS) advanced interactive services (AxIS) platform.

Launched in May with an announcement at the Cable Show, HITS AxIS is a centralized resource for cable operators that serve smaller markets using Motorola’s national authorization service (NAS) and digital access control (DAC) headend management systems.

Applications in the works at HITS AxIS encompass both the Enhanced Television- Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) and the tru2way platform. In July, the CMC announced that Buckeye CableSystem had agreed to serve as an AxIS beta site.

Now one of two dozen HITS AXiS partners, the previous group having been announced at Cable-Tec Expo in June, itaas has weathered the past decade by positioning itself between the technology platform providers, cable operators and application developers.

Itaas president and CEO Vibha Rustagi said the company’s early focus on real-time video on demand (VOD) monitoring and reporting tools led to deployments at Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Videotron.

The company has evolved along with the industry’s VOD platform, announcing at the Cable Show in May a switched digital video (SDV) client simulator.

On the application side, Rustagi said that software development kits (SDKs) built five years ago for Scientific Atlanta Resident Application (SARA) and the S-A Power TV middleware platform became the basis for the company’s istart developer program. Support followed for the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP, now tru2way), for Time Warner Cable’s Mystro Digital Navigator (MDN) and OCAP Digital Navigator (ODN), for EBIF and for the TVWorks collaboration between Cox and Comcast.

Others are playing in these spaces, as well. Ensequence, one of the fourteen HITS AxIS partners, partnered with two years ago with TVWorks, which itself comprises technologies acquired from defunct interactive technology companies Liberate and MetaTV.

What’s to make this next round of interactivity more fruitful and enduring than the last?

"The networks are robust, the platforms are very stable and have next-gen capabilities – DVR, tru2way, DOCSIS – and the subscribers are absolutely ready for this kind of applications development," said Rustagi. "We do feel that all the pieces have lined up."

– Jonathan Tombes

Read more news and analysis on Communications Technology‘s Web site at www.cable360.net/ct/news/.

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