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Optical Offers Hi-Def Relaxation

Jun 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The Optical Entertainment Network, which offers video, voice and Web service over fiber-optic lines, announced Monday it will launch nine original high-definition channels focused on relaxation as part of its Fision service package.
The Houston-based company has developed channels that are geared to relax viewers with images and sounds of beaches, fireplaces, aquariums and other scenes. All channels will be accompanied by ambient music or sound effects in full high-definition 1080i, Dolby 5.1 sound.
“We are very proud of the fact that we were able to put these HD channels together in less than four months,” President and Chief Executive Officer Albert J. Estrada said in a statement. “This shows what a company as nimble as ours can accomplish with entrepreneurship and a cutting-edge service platform to build upon. It should be very popular with our subscribers, who have a healthy appetite for more HD content.”
Programming like this caters to a select group, but Steve Ridge, executive VP of Frank Magid Associates, thinks there will be viewer demand for these channels.
“We’re in an incredibly niched environment,” he said. “Fewer and fewer viewers are watching programming in mass.”
Optical Entertainment places a big emphasis on high-definition, spokeswoman Cathy Clarke said. The company offers more than 40 HD channels, as well as mainstream television networks such as Fox Cable Networks, Turner and Disney/ESPN. While there are no official plans to make more original HD programming right now, Ms. Clarke said the company is always open to doing new projects.
One of the advantages to the fiber-to-the-home technology is the unlimited bandwidth, which enables Optical to offer more channels than a regular satellite or cable service provider.
In addition, Optical says its Fision IPTV signals are not digitized or compressed, allowing it to offer the highest quality picture.
“Fiber provides a lot of bandwidth into the home for HD delivery,” said Will Richmond, president and founder of Broadband Directions. “HD availability is a real differentiator for consumers, particularly as more and more people buy HD-ready TV sets.”
Even with the promise of a superior-quality picture, Mr. Richmond says people will likely be choosing a fiber-to-the-home service based on availability, price and extra services it may offer.
Currently, Optical Entertainment’s service is only available in Houston, where the company is based. Optical is in the process of making several reselling agreements with carriers in California and on the East Coast.
The company would not comment on its subscriber count, revenue or profit.

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