Europe has taken a step toward consolidating its multiple cable receiver standards in one common specification. The European Information, Communications, and Consumer Electronics Technology Industry Association (EICTA) has started working with major network cable operators to define a common digital TV receiver specification.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, the EICTA hopes the project will prepare the ground for the development of a set-top box based on an open digital TV standard that meets the needs of all European cable operators. The goal is to enable manufacturers to maximize the economy of scale and achieve a higher average revenue per user (ARPU) when they deploy their various digital TV services.
If successful, consumers should be able to access multimedia services from many sources all over Europe using only one receiver. This could yield an explosion in availability of services similar to the burgeoning digital terrestrial retail market in the U.K.
The new receiver platform design is based on open pan-European standards such as the IEC 62216-1 (E-Book), a standard for digital terrestrial TV receivers created by EICTA and DigiTAG, and the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP). The specification defines profiles for three levels of receiver functionality: Basic (Zapper with no interactive capability), Enhanced (MHP without return channel), and Interactive (MHP with return channel). The first full specification should be available at the end of 2003.
The new cooperative agreement will result in a robust design specification for an interoperable digital receiver platform that can be adopted by manufacturers. For details, go to www.eicta.org.