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CableLabs OKs Switched Video Tuners From Cisco, Motorola

CableLabs has certified the switched digital video tuning resolvers developed by Cisco Systems and Motorola that are designed to give third-party devices like TiVo DVRs access to switched TV channels.

In May, Cisco and Motorola submitted their adapters, which are the size of small set-top boxes, to CableLabs for qualification testing.

CableLabs senior vice president of communications Mike Schwartz on Thursday confirmed that the Cisco and Motorola devices have been qualified, noting that the research consortium does not typically announce certifications.

Currently TiVo DVRs and other consumer electronics can access linear cable programming through an operator-provided CableCard.

However, CE products based on the CableLabs-developed tru2way specification—which would allow them to access two-way services such as switched digital video—are not currently available. Nor do all cable systems support tru2way technology (formerly referred to as the OpenCable Application Platform).

Until then, another mechanism is required to let third-party devices access channels delivered through SDV systems, which transmit TV channels only when a subscriber requests them.

The Cisco STA1520 or Motorola MTR700 switched digital video tuning adapters would handle communication to and from the headend for SDV channels, communicating with a TiVo DVR via a USB connector.

The SDV adapters are expected to be offered by MSOs including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems, to subscribers in areas where they are deploying switched digital video technology. The cable operators and TiVo have said they plan to work cooperatively to notify TiVo subscribers that they will need the new external adapter.

Initially, the cable industry had expected the SDV tuners to be ready to deploy in the second quarter of 2008.