By James Mumma, Comcast Cable and Doug Jones, BigBand Networks

One of the major initiatives for the cable industry is the introduction of functionality giving subscribers opportunities to interact with applications and services through their televisions. Doing so will enhance viewing experiences, usher in new revenue opportunities and provide competitive differentiation to satellite broadcasters and the telephone companies. The ETV and the tru2way family of specifications available at CableLabs describe how applications can be bound to programming allowing cable to deliver a national platform for advertising and other services. While there are industry specifications for delivering bound applications to a set-top box, there are no specifications defined on the infrastructure capabilities needed to manage these bound applications. This paper proposes a technical architecture and capabilities that can be used to manage and deliver bound applications (in both ETV and OCAP formats) capable of providing operators with a flexible platform for advanced services delivery. ETV and OCAP applications are bound to individual programs by carrying those applications on MPEG-2 PIDs (Program Identifiers) that are included along with the programming. There can be multiple PIDs associated with a bound program and the paper proposes a flexible architecture to manage them. These include:  Passing bound applications, which include extra PIDs, through headend equipment;  Capability to dynamically add or drop individual PIDs associated with bound programs;  Protocol interfaces to manage the manipulations of identifiers associated with bound programs;  Interoperability between the HFC resource management system and the PID insertion function to account for the additional bandwidth used on a QAM as bound applications are managed;  An overall control mechanism to coordinate the management of bound applications with programmers, both national and local. With a proper management framework bound applications will provide both a platform for national services as well as personalized services. The ETV and OCAP toolset provides for a plethora of services, but the management and control architecture needs to be designed in order to achieve the full potential for innovation of which it is capable. The authors examine the requirements associated with management and control and explain how present capabilities can evolve to satisfy them.

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