Cable Europe Labs has announced the launch of a European Middleware Initiative aimed at developing a next generation middleware specification for the European cable market. The technology arm of trade association Cable Europe says the move will accelerate the development of an open middleware platform for applications and services.
“Our members deliver the latest and greatest services to more than 73 million homes. We will maintain a tight focus on the benefits of scale and stimulate an applications market. An open platform also makes it possible for developers to get their apps into our customers’ hands faster,” says Malcolm Taylor, managing director, Cable Europe Labs.
Europe has no shortage of middleware initiatives, the EBU is currently assessing whether it can bring together the various projects in and around Hybrid Broadcast Broadband (HBB), amid differing national strategies. To date the emphasis has been on the terrestrial market, so the involvement of Cable Europe Labs should be welcomed.
Parm Sandhu, CEO of Unitymedia, which to date has not made a firm decision on middleware said an open European middleware platform represented the best way of enhancing the customer experience. “Middleware is like an operating system and being able to get updates constantly is crucial to us. It’s ultimately about cable remaining competitive and building both scale and speed into our offerings in the world’s biggest trading block in the world. It just makes sense.”
KDG, which serves much of the rest of Germany has already selected the NDS proprietary MediaHighway system, in line with Sky Deutschland and fellow cablers Kabel BW and Telecolumbus.
The initiative was also welcomed by Jan Vorstermans, Executive Vice President and CTO at Belgium’s Telenet, one of the few cablenets to have embraced MHP. “We see the great value of open standards and are strong supporters of Cable Europe Labs and this initiative. Middleware is not just another part of the network and this programme will drive up our competitive offering at a time when the customer expects the newest apps,” he said.
Other operators, such as Switzerland’s Naxoo question whether a middleware us necessary at all. “I am against middleware,” Phong Pham, CTO at Naxoo told Broadband TV News. “You have to make investment whether it’s middleware or no middleware, so it is better to have the middleware embedded by the manufacturer, and you can see many operators thinking the same way.”
Requirements set by the European Middleware Initiative include as increased interactivity, enhanced programming, games, advanced advertising and web entertainment. It is expected to embrace existing technologies that include DVB, MHP, Java, HTML and Adobe Flash.