Fast, interactive are what matter at Cable 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (06/12/2001) - Interactive television and broadband technology companies including Microsoft, Motorola, Broadcom, and SimpleDevices launched products, partnerships and services at the Cable 2001 conference which opened Sunday in Chicago.

Microsoft announced alliances to help hardware manufacturers and network operators offer interactive TV services based on Microsoft TV. The software maker unveiled agreements with KPMG Consulting, BSquare and Rachis Corp. which make them the first companies to have early development relationships with Microsoft, the company said in a statement. Microsoft will work with the companies to help design, build, deploy and manage interactive TV systems, Microsoft said.

KPMG will use Microsoft TV in its broadband solution centers, Microsoft said in the statement. KPMG will use the centers to provide network operators with a platform to simulate their network and operations environment. Network operators can then build and test applications in the centers before offering them to subscribers, Microsoft said.

BSquare will provide platform engineering and testing of interactive TV systems deployed on the Microsoft TV platform to network operators. BSquare will work with network operators throughout the deployment process, using BSquare's automated software tests for set-top boxes running Microsoft TV. Rachis provides platform engineering and application development for Microsoft TV, Microsoft said in the statement.

MetaTV launched the MetaTV Universal Portal platform, designed to allow companies to extend their advertising reach. MetaTV combines the Internet and television by bringing things like video on demand from advertisers to the living room. When users go into an advertiser's channel, they have access to interactive information from the advertiser as if on a Web page, instead of a television commercial. The prototype at the show demonstrated the "Ford" channel, which delivers video of different Ford autos on demand, as well as information about pricing and comparison shopping, the MetaTV said in a statement.

Motorola signed an agreement with Dublin-based broadband software company Interactive Enterprise Ltd at the show. Motorola will market Interactive Enterprise's Conexon Accel modem software to cable operators alongside its own modem products. The companies hope the agreement will enable cable operators to speed the deployment of high-speed data services, as well as helping them manage existing and new subscribers, Motorola said in a statement. Motorola will integrate Conexon Accel with its own CAS 2000 Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) as part of an embedded trial program which operators can then purchase from either company, Motorola said.

Broadband integrated circuit company Broadcom announced the BCM3034, a modulator chip that can triple the upstream line speed from the end user over a cable network. The company also launched the BCM3138, a receiver that more than doubles the speed at which operators can send data to subscribers of Internet, telephony and video services, the company said in a statement. The chips are aimed at providing high-bandwidth for secure virtual private networking for telecommuters, IP (Internet Protocol) telephony, videoconferencing and peer-to-peer networking, Broadcom said. The BCM3034 is priced at US$100 in 500-unit quantities, while the 3138 is priced at $375 in 500-unit quantities, the company said.

SimpleDevices Inc. used the show to demonstrate its wireless digital audio system for cars. The SimpleAuto prototype is a digital audio receiver that lets users synchronize audio content located on a home PC or set-top box with the sound system in their car, the company said. The device is expected to be available to consumers in 2002 through agreements with original equipment manufacturers, auto manufacturers and as an after-market product, the company said.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Cable 2001 conference, in Chicago, runs through Wednesday.

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