Cable Labs Europe launches European middleware initiative

Cable Europe Labs on Monday announced the launch of a European Middleware Initiative, which aims to develop a next-generation middleware specification for the European market. The organization says that the initiative will accelerate the development of an open middleware platform for evolving applications and services, and will grow the footprint for and increase the speed of new interactive services. “Our members deliver the latest and greatest services to more than 73 million homes,” Cable Europe Labs managing director, Malcolm Taylor, said in a prepared statement. “We will maintain a tight focus on the benefits of scale and stimulate an applications market. If you think of middleware as the layer between the application and hardware, it is clear that emphasizing speed and scale are a logical evolution in today’s market. An open platform also makes it possible for developers to get their apps into our customers’ hands faster.”

According to Cable Europe Labs, future requirements such as increased interactivity, enhanced programming, games, advanced advertising and Web entertainment will also be a focus of the initiative, which it says will embrace key technologies such as  DVB-MHP, Java, HTML and Adobe Flash. “An open European middleware platform brings with it speed in being able to best enhance our customers’ experience, and at the same time makes it possible to quickly and efficiently offer new services which will be key to our continued success,” Parm Sandhu, CEO of German cable MSO, Unitymedia, said in a prepared statement. “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 biggest trading block in the world. It just makes sense.” Added Jan Vorstermans, CTO of Belgian cable MSO, Telenet (which uses MHP middleware): “Telenet has been a leader in offering advanced interactive television for many years. 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 program will drive up our competitive offering at a time when the customer expects the newest apps. Expanding our net of experts is another good move for us and Cable Europe Labs.”

Cable Europe Labs says it is issuing a call for participation in refining the specification in advance of publication: experts in areas such asDVB-MHP, Java, HTML, Flash, “and other relevant multimedia disciplines,” as well as experts in interactive TV in general, are invited to apply.