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Cable Show 2009: Itaas Licenses Comcast's TVWorks Platform

Itaas will license software developed by Comcast's TVWorks subsidiary for running Enhanced Binary Interchange Format applications, and will in turn offer MSOs an EBIF deployment package based on the software that includes a license, deployment support and maintenance services.

The TVWorks EBIF solution being offered is compatible with Motorola set-top boxes and also will run on tru2way-enabled cable systems.

As part of the EBIF deployment package, Itaas will provide a list of applications and programmers that have already been validated for deployment.

Examples of verified applications built to CableLabs' EBIF specification include those from Showtime Networks,  TAG Networks, Integra5 and iCueTV.

"Combining innovative applications like these with Itaas' tremendous experience in deploying them will create new opportunities for developers and programmers to build new interactive capabilities that can be delivered to even more consumers regardless of who their cable provider is," Mark Hess, Comcast senior vice president of video product development, said in a statement.

Comcast, for one, is using EBIF to introduce new features, like caller ID on the TV. According to Hess, the operator is trialing other EBIF features, such as reminders to record favorite programs and using the remote to order from home shopping networks, that Comcast plans to launch later this year.

"We are excited to support Comcast's commitment to speed the deployment of interactive television to millions of set-top boxes," Itaas CEO Vibha Rustagi said. "We look forward to leveraging the experience we have 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."

The addition of the EBIF engine licensing agreement expands the partnership between Itaas and TVWorks announced in May 2008 under which Itaas, as part of its istart Developer Program, offers application developers the TVWorks ETV development kit and support for developing applications that run on the TVWorks platform.

TVWorks was formed in 2005 as a joint venture between Comcast and Cox Communications, but Cox recently relinquished its ownership stake in TVWorks.

The TVWorks's Platform Division is located in London, Ontario, and its Applications Division is in Mill Valley, Calif.