(Nikkei BP Group)
(No.1 High Tech News Site in Japanese)
| TCI Selects Sony Home Networking Module For Set-top Boxes
July 30, 1998 (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Tele-Communications Inc.'s National
Digital Television Center (NDTC) selected Sony Corp.'s consumer electronics
middleware platform software for use in TCI's advanced digital set-top
|Sony agreed to license its Home Networking Module to the large cable
company for its next-generation digital set-top devices. The Tokyo-based
electronics company will provide TCI with a version of the Home Networking
Module middleware for use with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating
system. No licensing terms or prices were disclosed by the two companies.
Also, TCI agreed to adopt Sony's Aperios real-time operating system as
an alternative operating system for use in its digital set-top devices.
AT&T; Corp. of Basking Ridge, N.J. is in the process of buying TCI, in
a huge deal that requires regulatory and other approval. AT&T; also is
merging its international business with that of British Telecommunications
Plc., in a partnership that will necessitate multiple layers of approval.
Additionally, AT&T; recently completed its purchase of Teleport Communications
Group. The TCI acquisition and the other large deals involving AT&T;
could expand the market for the Sony middleware product for set-top
The Sony Home Networking Module is a type of middleware that allows digital
electronics products equipped with the i.LINK (IEEE1394) interface to
be interconnected and interoperated. In this case, middleware refers
to the software that runs between an operating system (such as Windows
CE) and application software programs.
The i.LINK interface permits devices to send and receive digital commands
and digital audio and video streams at up to 400Mbps, according to Sony.
"We are pleased that TCI has chosen Sony as a key supplier of technology
for TCI's advanced digital set-top devices," said Yukio Kubota, deputy
president of Sony's Digital Network Solutions Co. "Sony's Home Networking
Module will play an important role in enabling cable TV set-top devices
to provide next generation interactive services through the home network
"When equipped with the Home Networking Module and i.LINK digital interface,
our set-top devices will be able to do more than just pass through HDTV
signals," said David Beddow, senior vice president of TCI Ventures LLC.
"All digital signals, including HDTV and interactive services, can be
connected to other appliances such as digital television sets and digital
video recorders by using the digital interface, which also supports
a newly developed digital copy protection solution. The set-top devices
will also be able to control, and be controlled by, a variety of other
i.LINK equipped digital AV electronics appliances. In this way, they
can serve as a value-added gateway for a wide range of innovative digital-based
interactive services for the home network environment."
Sony developed Aperios as a real-time operating system to support the
complex needs of digital audio and video products such as advanced digital
Aperios can efficiently process continuous streams of audio and video
content without interruption. For this reason it is appropriate for
real-time applications. And because of its modular, object-oriented
structure, Aperios is a configurable and scaleable real-time operating
system. Sony said it can be utilized in a broad range of digital electronics
Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java-based operating system for consumer electronics
also may be a contender against Microsoft's Windows CE and the Sony
system for running set-top boxes.
Englewood, Colorado-based Tele-Communications Inc. is traded through
stocks of the TCI Group, the TCI Ventures Group and the Liberty Media
Group. Sony Corp.'s stock is listed in Tokyo as well as New York, as
(Neil Davis, Asia BizTech Correspondent)