OCAP is all about integration. Topping the list of things to integrate for OCAP are the OCAP-compliant host and remote, the separable security component (i.e., CableCards), the OCAP middleware platform, the monitor application, other OCAP applications, the object carousel, and XAIT signaling. Throw in the various platforms, and the path to OCAP becomes fraught with potential ankle-grabbing vines. Cox’s Craig Smithpeters calls systems integration for OCAP “the long pole in the tent.” Unlike smaller operators, or even some larger ones, Cox is able to solve some of its integration issues by working with TVWorks, which is a joint venture between Cox and Comcast. “For us, having the TVWorks joint venture has been huge,” Smithpeters said. “Integration is also the thing where no vendor wants to step up and be responsible for it, so basically the burden is on the operators. That’s a challenge for us because we’ve gotten used to relying on our guide vendors and on Motorola or Scientific Atlanta for a lot of that integration, but as you move into OCAP and OpenCable, more and more of that burden is on us. “I think the large operators are up to the challenge, but I wonder about some of the smaller operators. It’s going to be challenging, but some third party will have to emerge to help the smaller operators in this area.” Even for large operators, the prospect of having every retail TV set, set-top box or other OCAP device on hand for testing is daunting. “In the past, we were used to dealing with leased set-top boxes from primarily Motorola and Scientific Atlanta,” Smithpeters said. “Now we could have customers call up with potentially dozens, or even hundreds, of retail devices like a TV when they’re having an issue with our software running on them. That is going to be harder to diagnose.” One idea being kicked around is an industry-wide testing facility. “We call it a zoo of set-top boxes, sort of a Noah’s Ark of set-tops and TVs,” Smithpeters said. “It will be challenging to keep one of every model that is out there up and running in a testing facility, and it will be challenging for a number of years.” – Mike Robuck

The Daily


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