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Panasonic Signs First PHILA License

After months of inter-industry squabbling, Panasonic said it has stepped up to become the first manufacturer to sign on with the cable industry’s POD-Host Interface License Agreement (PHILA) to enable it to begin building next-generation digital cable ready televisions.

The agreement covers specifications for a one-way-only system that will enable consumers to connect a digital coaxial cable to a television display’s RF input and receive standard and premium digital cable content (including HDTV programs) without the need of a separate set-top box.

Andy Nelkin, Panasonic digital technologies VP, said, “By limiting our discussions to a unidirectional terminal most of the compliance issues [between the CE and cable industries] do not apply.” Nelkin said Panasonic plans to introduce the first digital-cable-ready TVs next year. They will include special point-of-deployment (POD) card slots that will accept POD cards from local cable operators to authorize viewing the channels in a subscriber’s programming package.

The agreement will also enable the new televisions to be sold at retail, with the assurance they will work with any digital cable system in the country.

The CE and cable industries continue to debate issues for two-way cable interoperability, Nelkin said. The primary sticking points continue to be related to multiple digital outputs and encoding rules.

The POD host interface, the subject of the PHILA license, was developed by CableLabs, a specifications and standards setting organization of the cable industry.