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Cable Technology Feature Article

April 06, 2009

itaas and Comcast Introduce a New Program to Bring More Interactive Applications to Consumers

By Anil Sharma, TMCnet Contributor

itaas and Comcast Corporation, a provider of entertainment, information and communication products and services, are working together to help cable operators deploy a standard interactive television platform built on CableLabs’ Enhanced Binary Interface Format (EBIF) specification.
The companies say the platform will give consumers new and different ways to interact with the programs they watch on television.
itaas officials said that the company would license an EBIF engine developed by TVWorks, a subsidiary of Comcast (News - Alert), and offer MSOs an EBIF deployment package that includes a license, deployment support and maintenance services.
Officials said that as more cable operators move to EBIF, it will be easier for developers and programmers to build new interactive features from games and information to voting and polling because they will work on any cable system where this standard interactive platform has been deployed.
“We are excited to support Comcast’s commitment to speed the deployment of interactive television to millions of set-top boxes,” said Vibha Rustagi, CEO of itaas.
Rustagi said that the company looks forward to leveraging the experience it has built from working with cable companies, developers and other technology companies to help cable providers that want to give their customers the latest interactive experiences but may not have the resources to devote to it.
itaas plays a unique, multifaceted role in developing and delivering interactive television. 
The company reaches across the entire iTV ecosystem to ensure that customers are able to develop and deploy applications, including ETV and tru2way solutions across multimedia devices.
“We’re using EBIF to help our customers enjoy new ways of interacting with the programming and services on their televisions with applications, like caller ID to the TV, and we’re trialing other EBIF features, including reminders to record favorite programs and using the remote to order from home-shopping networks, that we’re planning to launch later this year,” said Mark Hess, senior vice president of video product development for Comcast.
According to officials, as part of the EBIF deployment package, itaas will provide each MSO with a list of applications and programmers that have already been validated for deployment.
Officials pointed out that as these applications are built on the industry standard EBIF specification, they can be launched easily on any cable system that’s deployed the EBIF platform.
MSOs can then decide based on their business models which applications they want to deploy.

Anil Sharma is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anil’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray