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Cable to Offer Switched Digital Video to TiVo Subs

Major cable operators in the second quarter of 2008 expect to offer an adapter to customers of TiVo’s digital video recorders that will give the DVRs direct access to switched digital video channels, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and TiVo announced Monday.

The NCTA committed to developing such a solution in August, after legislators raised concerns that switched digital video technology represented a cable industry initiative that would make certain programming inaccessible to third-party consumer electronics.

Switched digital video transmits linear TV channels only when customers request them. That lets an operator deliver more programming in the same amount of bandwidth with the assumption that fewer than half the channels being switched will be viewed simultaneously. 

"Today's announcement is a major breakthrough resulting from marketplace discussions that provides benefits for consumers and cable operators," NCTA president and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said in a statement. "We very much appreciate TiVo's willingness to work on a marketplace solution that will enable TiVo users to enjoy innovative switched digital services without the need for a set-top box."

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said in a statement the company was "gratified that the cable industry has agreed to work quickly to develop a solution” to allow its DVRs to access switched digital cable channels.

The specifications for the interface to the new adapter were developed in discussions among cable operators, CableLabs, TiVo, Motorola, Scientific Atlanta, BigBand Networks and C-COR.

The Universal Serial Bus-based adapter will let TiVo Series 3 HD DVRs and TiVo HD DVRs access switched digital cable channels without an operator-supplied set-top box. In addition, the NCTA and CableLabs said the adapter will work on any Unidirectional Digital Cable Ready Product that has a USB connector and necessary firmware. 

The NCTA said cable operators and TiVo will work cooperatively to alert TiVo customers about availability of the new adapter.