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Alticast, Zodiac Team On Tru2way Solution

Valley Stream, N.Y. — Alticast, a developer of embedded firmware for a broad range of interactive set-top boxes and Blu-ray Disc players, said Friday that it has partnered with Zodiac Interactive, a developer of interactive TV software, to produce a framework/embedded solution for Tru2way set top boxes.

The framework is expected to enable cable multisystem operators (MSOs) to deliver interactive services and applications including next-generation interactive user interfaces, guides, messaging, Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) systems, and advance video-on-demand ordering and delivery.

Alticast firmware is said to deliver functionality, speed and performance for more than 10 million devices worldwide, ranging from DVB-MHP set-top boxes abroad, to cable set-top boxes (OCAP/Tru2way) in Korea and North America, to Blu-ray Disc players worldwide. Alticast is based in Seoul, South Korea, and has U.S. headquarters in Valley Stream, N.Y.

Zodiac Interactive and Alticast will bundle Zodiac’s PowerUp for Tru2way technology with Alticast’s AltiCaptor embedded software.

The combination will allow MSOs to “more easily offer subscribers advanced services such as TV widgets (also known as Zidgets) including local restaurant search, click-to-call, multi-player games, photo-sharing, weather, traffic, sports scores, local news and more,” AltiCast said.

The first project for the two companies will be to develop a solution to power interactive applications on Cisco/Scientific-Atlanta Tru2way set-top boxes, the companies’ said.

“Alticast has a proven, worldwide best-of-class embedded solution for Tru2way technology. Together we are bringing a complete and advanced interactive television solution to the market, backed by our PowerUp framework for the Tru2way platform, which lets operators build once and easily deploy Tru2way applications and services across multiple platforms,” stated Michael Rivkin, Zodiac CEO.

Tru2way is the brand name for interactive digital cable services delivered to set-top boxes and consumer electronics products equipped with bi-directional slots for CableCard security devices supplied to users by cable operators. Tru2way is the new name for technology known as OpenCable.

The Tru2way specification calls for middleware based on Java technology that may be built into televisions, set-top boxes and other devices. It enables cable companies and other interactive application developers to develop applications that can be run on any device supporting Tru2way architecture.

The specification is now supported by TV set-makers Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Funai, set-top vendors Motorola, Cisco, Pace, Digeo, ADB, Thomson and EchoStar; and microchip producers Intel ST Micro and Broadcom.

“Alticast’s experience with major chip designs is unmatched in the industry. By delivering reduced cost and time-to-market, Alticast enables CEs to more readily leverage new [system on a chip] SoC designs that ultimately drive consumer adoption,” said Jeff Bonin, Alticast GM and VP.

“For MSOs this means they can more easily realize reduced cost for deploying new interactive services and increase quality of service. They can further differentiate themselves to drive subscriber retention and revenue through innovative services and products enabled by Zodiac’s PowerUp Framework,” Bonin continued.

In addition to working on Tru2way systems, Alticast has developed a version of its AltiCaptor firmware to work in Blu-ray Disc players, offering smoother performance and compatibility for the BD-Live interactive functions of players designed to the Blu-ray Profile 2.0 specifications. The technology enables multiple additional features such as Netflix streaming and development of next-generation hybrid cable and Blu-ray Disc players, the company said.

Alticast software was chosen as the exclusive BD solution for the Broadcom 7440 SoC for Blu-ray players and by Intel for BD and Tru2way chipsets, including the CE3100. Intel is expected to announce CE and Tru2way customers later in 2009.

Currently, Alticast software is used by Samsung in its BD-Live Blu-ray Disc players, among other products. In addition, Alticast software is used by Chinese manufacturers that produce Blu-ray Disc players for the Insignia, Sherwood and Vizio brands.

Alticast firmware is also deployed in millions of cable set-top boxes in Korean and North America.

“For consumers, we offer a better user experience in terms of compatibility and feature performance,” said Jeff Bonin, Alticast VP and general manager, adding that Alticast is “primed for growth” as Tru2way and Blu-ray Disc products ramp up in 2009.