Tech Briefs

Jul 16, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Winfirst signs VOD deal with Intertainer
Winfirst, a broadband network that provides cable television, telephone, Internet, and video on demand, has signed a deal to deploy Intertainer’s VOD service. The first rollout of the Intertainer VOD offering for Winfirst customers will occur “very shortly” in Sacramento, Calif., according to an executive close to the negotiations with Intertainer.
Winfirst, which is planning to use nCube’s VOD servers and Canal Plus Technologies’ interactive television middleware, has raised approximately $889 million, the executive said. The broadband provider has received regulatory approval to reach customers in San Diego, Seattle, Dallas and Austin, Texas. The company is seeking regulatory approval to begin service in Los Angeles.
New PVR in Echostar’s pipeline
Satellite television provider EchoStar Communications is planning to unveil by year-end a receiver enhanced with an advanced personal-video-recording service tentatively titled “Model 721.” Although pricing on the new receiver has yet to be determined, it will be more expensive than the company’s recently released PVR 501 unit. EchoStar is pricing the 501 at $39.99 per month. The single-tuner 501 receiver allows viewers to watch only the program being stored during the recording process. With the 721customers can record one show while watching another. The 721 will feature two broadband access ports-one for DSL service and another for StarBand, a two-way satellite broadband provider.
EchoStar, which to date has a minority stake in StarBand, announced last week that its investment would grow to 60 percent after StarBand builds its satellite later this year. EchoStar introduced the DishPlayer in 1999 in a joint venture with Microsoft. That product, which is still on the market, provides dial-up Internet access.
Microsoft putting PVR into ITV middleware
Microsoft’s UltimateTV division, which with DirecTV markets personal video recorders at retail outlets, is working to transfer the technology embedded in its retail appliances into Microsoft software, according to an executive familiar with the situation. The UltimateTV product available in stores was based on a PVR application drawn from a now-outdated version of Microsoft TV’s middleware. UltimateTV has improved its technology and plans to integrate its current PVR offering into Microsoft’s digital cable middleware for cable operators.