Six U.S. cable operators, Sony sign agreement on two-way interactivity without STBs

A group of major cable operators and Sony Electronics have signed an agreement that lets consumers buy two-way digital televisions and other devices that can receive interactive digital and HD video services without a set-top box.

The terms of the agreement, announced May 27, are embodied in a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated by Sony Electronics and the six largest cable companies, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House Networks. Together, these cable operators serve more than 82 percent of all U.S. cable subscribers. Other consumer electronics manufacturers have been invited to join the MOU.

The agreement establishes the fundamentals for a competitive retail market for two-way digital cable-ready devices. It addresses how the products will be brought to market with interactive services like video-on-demand, digital video recording and interactive programming guides.

It makes clear that consumers will be able to choose among differentiated two-way products at retail stores and through cable operators from a variety of consumer electronics and information technology manufacturers.

As part of the agreement, the parties will adopt the Java-based tru2way solution as the national interactive plug-and-play standard.