Comcast Set to Expand Panasonic Deal

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said its Panasonic division expects to build on its existing set-top deal with Comcast Corp. to license Panasonic's OpenCable Application Platform middleware on both set-tops and TV sets.

Panasonic said the middleware will be installed on Comcast digital set-tops following OCAP standards that will allow Comcast to deploy interactive services.

"This work will help to make the entire OpenCable hardware and software end-to-end solution a reality," Comcast executive vice president of new-business development Steve Silva said in a prepared statement.

The two companies have an existing deal for Comcast to purchase Panasonic-designed-and-manufactured OCAP-compliant set-tops. The companies agreed to jointly develop a certification system for OCAP-ready devices and digital TV, which will allow OCAP devices developed by other manufacturers to be tested to ensure interoperability and compliance with OCAP standards.

Panasonic said its OCAP-complaint set-top would hit the market next year.