(modified former Question 4/9)
The design of the next generation set-top boxes for future advanced content
distribution services for consumer use will require the smooth integration of
dozens of hardware and software components. These components will communicate
with each other through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). A detailed
knowledge and the ability to control each API is of great importance; indeed,
since some APIs can grow to take control of and "warp" other APIs, and since
even one such closed API in an otherwise open set-top box makes the entire box a
closed environment, control of practically all of the key APIs is of paramount
A further purpose of defining these APIs is to enable service operators to
deploy advanced set-top boxes in the future, while ensuring their ability to
keep costs low, choose among flexible architectures, maintain a multi-vendor,
modular environment, and obviate the need to compromise on features and
The problem is not limited only to content distribution services. There are
so many types of services such as linear-TV with trick mode, network PVR,
user-generated content, and so on, and such new generation of services makes
delivery on new interactive services possible via this mechanism. This in turns
leads to the same need for APIs.
It is of course also highly desirable that the specified APIs should conform
to "open", published standards rather than to proprietary standards, and that
they should incorporate a well-defined mechanism for adding extensions. However,
adding extensions in an uncontrolled manner will lead to development confusion
and incompatibility, to illegal "warping" of other APIs and to the risk of
addition of proprietary extensions.
It is thus important and urgent that APIs for use in the advanced content
distribution services to next generation set-top boxes be studied and specified
to conform to the operating requirements delineated above.
- What are the relevant advanced content distribution applications and the
functionality that each API should be able to provide in order to meet the
requirements? (APIs are required for the support of applications but are
also required for downloading purposes, display purposes, for network
control and for security.)
- What specification of the open API or APIs can be recommended for use in
each application, paying attention to their desirable interoperability with
other APIs recommended for use in other services and their use in next
generation set-top boxes for the reception of advanced content distribution
services via interactive systems?
- What specifications can be recommended for the mechanisms to be provided
in each recommended API, to allow its future extension to further
- What enhancements to existing Recommendations are required to provide
energy savings directly or indirectly in Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs) or in other industries? What enhancements to developing
or new Recommendations are required to provide such energy savings?
Tasks include, but are not limited to the preparation of new Recommendation(s).
These will eventually fully specify all the open APIs recommended for use in the
advanced content distribution services via interactive access networks.
An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the
SG 9 Work Programme.
Liaison in the study of this Question should be established with ITU-T Study
Groups 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17 and with ITU-R Study Group 6.
1The ITU Terminology database defines “content” as “program material and related information of any variety”