Explanation of EBIF, tru2way, OCAP, ETV for the non-Cable (Mobile) Folks

The previous weblog article described the learning offered by Canoe Ventures to the mobile industry in working successfully with other industries.  For the non-Cable (mobile) folks this article provides a little more depth on what the cable acronyms mean, how they fit together, and some analogies to the mobile industry to aid understanding.

Tru2way was formerly known as the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP), that’s the last time I’m going to mention OCAP.  Tru2way has a number of capabilities including allowing digital TVs to connect to cable without requiring a set-top box, just like those old unsuccessful cableCARDs. But of relevance in the comparison to the mobile industry is it provides a Java platform on the STB (Set Top Box) to run applications.  Similar to the J2ME MIDP 2.0 (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition Mobile Information Device Profile) specification on mobile phones, but with much more processing power and a standardized screen.

EBIF (Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format) is designed for older / cheaper STBs with limited processing power and memory, such as the Motorola DCT-2000 set top.  An ETV (Enhanced TV) user agent is downloaded to the STB.  The ETV app is inserted into the digital TV bit stream (MPEG-2 transport stream) of the channel being watched, when the user agent receives the ETV application it decodes and display the clickable object on the TV screen.  It enables polling, instant weather and traffic, and other simple point-and-click features – a bit like WAP-push (Wireless Application Protocol) just much more visually pleasing.  Verizon FiOS users can experience this using the widget button on their remote to see local traffic and weather.  EBIF is a subset of tru2way, so tru2way STBs will also run ETV applications.

Using Comcast as an example, only 15% of their STBs will be able to support tru2way by the end of 2009; while over 90% of STBs will be able to support EBIF.  Hence Canoe Ventures is initially focused upon EBIF.

2 thoughts on “Explanation of EBIF, tru2way, OCAP, ETV for the non-Cable (Mobile) Folks

  1. S. M. Allman

    EBIF is a NOT subset of tru2way from an application developers perspective, nor the set top boxe’s. ETV applications require an ETV agent to execute, so standard compliant tru2way STBs will NOT also run ETV applications. Several ETV agents have been developed using the tru2way APIs, but an ETV agent is not a standard part of the tru2way landscape.

  2. Alan Quayle

    Thanks Scott,
    I agree, I was over simplifying the situation, the weblog entry was aimed at helping the people in mobile understand what’s happening in cable a little better.
    On the guide to tru2way provided on the http://www.tru2way.com site they state, “Yet ETV and OCAP can coexist, so interactive ads and other applications built for ETV will also run on tru2way devices.”
    My assumption was given the simplicity of the ETV agent, any tru2way STB would automatically include an ETV agent, hence why I positioned it as a subset (a stepping stone). But you’re right they are separate initiatives, but important steps in the evolution of the STB as a service platform.
    Best Regards,

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