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Panasonic, Comcast Testing Interactive Digital Cable-Ready Receiver

Panasonic, in conjunction with Comcast, will begin testing an interactive digital cable-ready, high-definition plasma television receiver.

The new television set is based on the Open Cable Application Platform specifications, and testing will begin later this month. Cable operators are already beginning to deploy OCAP specifications within some systems.

"This is a major step in the realization of OCAP, and we are very pleased to be partnering with Comcast, the leading cable operator in the U.S., to test this exciting product," said Dr. Paul Liao, chief technology officer for the Panasonic Corp. of North America.

By integrating OCAP middleware into such a cable-ready receiver, subscribers can access such features as video-on-demand and electronic program guides without a cable company-supplied set-top box. The technology will also open the way for interactive cable features such as e-commerce, gaming and voting.

"We are pleased to expand our relationship with a leader like Panasonic to develop the next generation of digital cable-ready televisions," said Mark Coblitz, Comcast senior vice president of technology and policy. "The development of OCAP-powered TVs is another example of how Comcast is working with the CE industry to enhance the consumer viewing experience by making it even easier to enjoy new interactive applications combined with the convenience of integrated digital cable services."

The testing is expected to last through 2007, with Panasonic planning to release a commercial receiver model based on the technology in early 2008.