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July 31, 2001 Provided by System Dynamics Inc. in association with Pulver.com

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IN THIS ISSUE:


Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies influencing The Broadband Home

Company News

People News

Fred Allegrezza was named chief technology officer of the XSTREME Division of Concurrent Computer Corporation. He was previously their VP of New Business Development. ( www.concurrent.com )

Michael Allen has joined Pacific Broadband Communications as VP of Worldwide Sales and Customer Support. He was previously at OnePath Networks. ( www.pacificbroadband.com )

Fred Berry was named VP/general manager of Toshiba America Information Systems Network Products Division. ( www.toshibamodems.com )

Chris Dinallo was named Chief Technologist, Pace Micro Technology Americas. He was formerly engineering director at Netspeak. ( www.pace.com )

Michael Foley has been named CEO of Alopa Networks. He was previously president of Excite@Home Canada. ( www.alopa.com )

Erwin Hudson was promoted to be President of Wildblue. ( www.wildblue.com )

Jonathan Leess was named EVP, Programming and Production at GoldPocket Interactive. Leess was formerly Senior VP for ABC's Enhanced TV at The Walt Disney Company. ( www.goldpocket.com )

Philip Lonigro was named Director of Product Management of Pace Micro Technology Americas new IPTV Division. ( www.pace.com )

Tuck Newport was appointed VP of Strategic Initiatives at Clarent Corporation. Newport was previously a VP at VeriFone. ( www.clarent.com )

Steve Nicolle is now president and CEO of Sigma Systems Inc. He was previously at Nortel Networks. ( www.sigma-systems.com )

Skip Pizzi is becoming Microsoft TVs standards and regulatory affairs manager in Washington, D.C. ( www.microsoft.com )

Wendy Rasmussen has been named VP/GM for the Chicago regional office of RCN Corp. Before joining RCN, Rasmussen was at AT&T Broadband. ( www.rcn.com )

Donna Thomas joined Incanta as senior VP of sales and marketing; she'll report to Maggie Bellville who became Incanta's new CEO in late June. Thomas previously waw a senior VP at Discovery Networks. ( www.incanta.com )

(Please email people@bb-home.com to report a change in your position.)

--Acquisitions

Alcatel Optronics will acquire Kymata Ltd. for $117.2 million in stock. ( www.alcatel.com )

C-COR.net agreed to acquire Aerotech Communications and has also purchased certain assets of ADC Telecommunications’ cable product portfolio. ( www.c-cor.net )

Cell Network is selling its ITV subsidiary to London-based Sparkidea Consulting for an undisclosed amount. ( www.cellnetwork.com )

Cisco is buying AuroraNetics for $150 million in stock. They are also buying Allegro Systems, a private network security company, for $181 million in stock. ( www.cisco.com )( www.auroranetics.com ) ( www.allegrosys.com )

Deutsche Telekom AG is selling six of its cable systems in Germany to Liberty Media , which will give Liberty access to more than 10 million European homes. Analysts expect Liberty - now independent from AT&T - to pay as much as $4.7 billion for the systems. DT will step up its own broadband efforts using DSL. ( www.telekom.de/international ) ( www.libertymedia.com )

Lucent sold its Optical Fiber Solutions unit, splitting the unit between Japan's Furukawa Electric Co. and Corning Inc. for $2.75 billion. ( www.lucent.com ) ( www.corningfiber.com ) ( www.furukawa.co.jp )

Motorola is acquiring broadband provider RiverDelta Networks, Inc. The transaction is valued at $300 million. ( www.motorola.com ) ( www.riverdelta.com )

Nokia is acquiring Amber Networks in a stock-for-stock merger valued at $421 million. ( www. nokia.com ) ( www.ambernetworks.com)

--Funding

Bandspeed Inc. raised $15 million in venture capital, partly from Cisco Systems. Primary investors were JatoTech Ventures and MSD Capital. ( www.bandspeed.com )

BroadJump got $22 million in third-round funding largely from a VC firm formed by companies including SBC Communications, BellSouth Corp. and Nortel Networks. ( www.broadjump.com )

EchoStar assumed a controlling stake in StarBand , a two-way satellite Internet service provider. EchoStar's 32 percent ownership will increase to 60 percent when StarBand's next generation satellite starts construction. EchoStar is investing an additional $50 million in cash in StarBand and has committed to launch a next generation satellite. Starband has shifted to a wholesale strategy. ( www.starband.com )

iBeam has obtained $40 million in funding from four investors including Williams Communications ( www.ibeam.com )

Integral Access has secured $45 million in a fourth round of financing. ( www.integralaccess.com )

iVAST has secured $25 million in financing, which includes contributions from Sun and Macrovision as well as previous investors. ( www.ivast.com )

MetaTV received a $2M investment from Rogers Communications Inc.( www.metatv.com ) ( www.rogers.com )

RealNetworks has made a $1 million equity investment in On2. ( www.on2.com )

WildBlue has an additional investment from Telesat Canada, which increased its ownership to approximately 20%. ( www.wildblue.com ) ( www.telesat.ca )

--Other News

Arbitron and Coleman announced results of their study of US Internet users regarding broadband awareness. They found that 59 percent of those questioned had heard of broadband Internet access -- meaning more than four in 10 respondents had not. ( www.colemaninsights.com )

AT&T 's board rejected Comcast's $44.5 billion bid to acquire AT&T's cable operation and delayed its plan to spin off the unit. AT&T has reportedly held talks with Walt Disney, Cox, Cablevision, Time Warner, Charter, and other MSOs and media companies. ( www.att.com )

BSkyB unveiled Sky+, their integrated Personal Television Recorder and Service. The product which enables this PVR service will go on sale in September. Pace is the supplier of the Sky+ set-top box. ( www.newscorp.com ) ( www.pace.co.uk )

Consumer Electronics Association 's (CEA) Home Networks and Information Technology Division, announced a new TechHome Rating System to help home buyers evaluate and compare the tech proficiency of houses. ( www.ce.org/TechHome ) also see Intel's Tech tour at ( www.oregonlive.com/sites/streetofdreams/techtour.html )

Charter and DIVA have expanded their VOD deal to cover the 1.7 million customers in 10 Charter markets. Charter is an investor in DIVA and has a seat on its Board. ( www.charter.com ) ( www.divatv.com )

CableLabs ' CableHome project made public its interim specification for Quality of Service (QoS) and released its architecture framework technical report. ( www.cablelabs.com/homenetworks/specifications.html ).

Competisys announced the “lighting” of its HomeStream system at a home development in Northern California. The broadband system integrates telephone, video and high-speed Internet services over a Gigabit Ethernet, direct fiber connection into the home. Users can buy individual services or a package including 1 Megabit hi-speed Internet, deluxe phone service and premium TV for $114.95 per month. ( www.competisys.com )

The Congressional Internet Caucus' Advisory Committee completed the last of its three-part Broadband panels, this one covering open access and broadband tax incentives. ( www.netcaucus.org/events/2001 )

EarthLink is continuing to target the broadband and SOHO markets. They have introduced a fixed-IP address DSL service which enables their DSL users to connect remotely to their company's VPN or corporate network using the same IP address. They also address such user's needs by their previously announced partnering with 2Wire. ( www.earthlink.net )

Excite@Home renegotiated its optical-fiber backbone capacity contract with AT&T providing @Home $85 million in cash. Financial difficulties are still plaguing @Home and the situation is made more difficult by the uncertain future of AT&T Broadband. ( www.home.net )

FutureSmart Networks and NETGEAR announced a partnership to provide Cable/DSL routers and Ethernet switches to the new home construction market through FutureSmart's network of authorized installation professionals. ( www.futuresmart.com )

HighSpeed Surfing Inc. is launching its WG 100 Wireless Router for homes and businesses. The product blends the capabilities of wireless routers' access points into a single device with remote management. The company will sell initially to MSOs. ( www.highspeedsurfing.com )

Hughes Network Systems launched its DirecWay satellite broadband services for consumers and small businesses. The service is targeted at those that cannot get cable modem or DSL services. ( www.hns.com )

H-P announced its Digital Entertainment Center, packaged as a stereo component, to download, store and play compressed music files from the internet and offer limited streaming of music video to the TV. ( www.hp.com )

InnoMedia 's BuddyTalk is now available for free downloading. It provides PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone telephone service, telephone conferencing, and instant messaging. It enables both broadband and dial-up users to set up and participate in multi-party conference calls. ( www.buddytalk.com ) ( www.innomedia.com )

Intertainer has reached a five year agreement to supply VOD content to WINfirst 's customers, starting in Sacramento, Calif. WINfirst has received regulatory approval to build networks to more than 3.7 million homes. ( www.intertainer.tv ) ( www.winfirst.com )

Liberate Technologies announced a joint venture with China-based Global Net Broadband , Inc. (GNI). The duo intends to deliver interactive software and services on GNI set-top boxes, using Liberate software for subscribers in the People's Republic of China. GNI has an exclusive contract with Guangdong Cable Radio and Television Station, whose network covers over six million cable subscribers. ( www.liberate.com )

Microsoft has a deal to distribute the Vivendi Universal and Sony Music Entertainment on-demand online music service pressplay, formerly known as Duet, on its MSN Network. The deal with Microsoft will enable pressplay users to use the Windows Media Player to download music titles. Rival RealNetworks has aligned itself with competitive service MusicNet, backed by AOL Time Warner, EMI Group Inc. and Bertelsmann. ( www.vivendi.com )( www.sony.com )

NTL and Telewest have agreed to co-market broadband services throughout Britain in order to speed broadband Internet acceptance in the U.K. and Ireland. ( www.ntl.co.uk ) ( www.telewest.co.uk )

Optical Solutions announced a collaborative technology to deliver a switched digital video service over the FiberPath 400 system. Myrio, Harmonic, Hitachi Internetworking, Pace Micro Technology, and Motorola will collaborate on the system to allow multiple end-users to receive real-time broadcast video content via IP transport. ( www.opticalsolutions.com )

Pacific Broadband 's Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) successfully passed the CableLabs Certification for DOCSIS 1.0. This is notable since the CMTS passed on its initial submission and is based on custom silicon rather than the chips used by most other DOCSIS systems. ( www.pacificbroadband.com )

RealNetworks was joined by IBM, InterTrust, MGM and others in support of XMCL (extensible media commerce language), a set of technical specs that works with the digital rights management (DRM) software used to protect movies and other digital content from being pirated. They also demonstrated the Real System Media Commerce Suite software for secure rights managed distribution of digital content to RealPlayer users. ( www.realnetworks.com )

Samsung and AOL Time Warner established an alliance to develop and market set-top boxes and other digital equipment products designed to deliver AOL's print and multimedia content to the US market. ( www.samsung.com )

Sony Corp. announced a Web site, to launch this fall, enabling users of high-speed Internet access to design their own entertainment by editing films and remixing songs on the Web through its Screenblast site. In other news, Sony will offer ADSL internet access in Japan via its ISP So-net starting August 15. ( www.screenblast.com ) ( www.sony.com )

Telia will invest another E134.5 million in its fiber network, operated by its affiliate, Skanova. Up to half the money will be spent in large cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. They also plan to dig around 5,000km of new fiber-optic cable this year, spending over SEK4 billion in upgrading the existing network. Telia's Com.hem, which the company originally planned to sell, is Sweden's leading cable operator, with 1.3 million homes connected. It is now viewed as a vital part of Telia's broadband division. ( www.telia.com ) ( www.skanova.com )

Ucentric Systems has teamed with AP Engines and Ellacoya Networks to enable service providers to serve the home networking market with their current infrastructure. ( www.ucentric.com ) ( www.ellacoya.com ) ( www.apengines.com )

Yahoo Japan and its parent company Softbank reportedly are gearing up to launch ADSL Internet access services in Japan. The companies plan to spend over $814 million on the project by year end. ( www.softbank.com )

--Public Policy

Canada - The Canadian government-appointed National Broadband Task Force has issued its report, "The New National Dream: Networking for Broadband Access". It recommends that all Canadians have the right to have access to broadband services by 2004. The investment requirements will be roughly $2.6 billion. The recommendations say efforts should be centered around rural and remote communities and public institutions where the private sector is less likely to deliver services and suggests that 1.5 Mbps be the "minimum" bandwidth made available to households and small businesses. Two implementation approaches are suggested: the "infrastructure support model" and the "bottom-up...community aggregator model." The infrastructure support model has private companies bidding for contracts to enable services delivery to under-served areas. The second involves creating broadband community networks, enabling remote areas to pool demand for high-speed access.

Korea - The Korean government has outlined a plan to have 84 percent of the country's households broadband capable by 2005. The government plans to sink $15.3 billion into the project. According to industry research, Korea is among the leading countries when it comes to broadband access.

U.S. - Debate continues in the broadband community about H.R. 1542, the House of Representatives bill supported by the dominant local phone companies. A vote on the measure is now expected in September. The bill would remove the requirement for these companies to open their networks to rivals before offering long-distance data services, and permits them to deploy new data networks without requiring them to resell network elements to high-speed Internet service rivals. Some key senators have said they oppose the current bill. We continue to favor policies which encourage competition for the last mile to enable widespread installation of broadband.

As part of the discussion on U.S. policy, The Progress & Freedom Foundation initiated “Project Broadband”. They have held several forums and given speeches on topics such as broadband’s role in reviving the tech economy and “Are Narrowband Regulators Ready for a Broadband World?” ( www.pff.org )

Organization News

FTTH Council - An industry consortium including Alcatel, Corning Inc. and Optical Solutions formed the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. Its aim is to educate, promote and accelerate deployment of the technology in North America. Members come from the telecom, computing, networking, system integration and content-provision industries. Others will come from utilities, municipalities and real estate development. Participation is open to companies interested in the technology. Its first meeting will be held in August to organize and ratify its 2001 agenda. ( www.corningfiber.com/newsroom )

The Israeli Home Networking Forum , featuring CEOs of five Israeli companies plus discussions of technologies and VC investments, met in Tel Aviv on July 2. ( www.homenetwork.org.il )


"ITV Content E-mergency" Conference at Columbia - Interactive TV in North America

July 17th was "ITV Content E-mergency" day at Columbia University, where the Interactive Design Lab hosted a one-day conference on the state of interactive TV content. We found the conference very valuable as an update on the current state of ITV, and it helped to crystalize our thoughts on the direction of ITV in North America.

The Interactive Design Lab, a collaboration between Columbia's School of the Arts and Graduate School of Journalism, analyzes the design of emerging interactive forms of media. The Lab's co-directors, John Kelly and Andrew Lih, acted as co-chairs of the conference. They recruited speakers from technology, broadcasting, content and academia to share their insights on lessons learned to date, the status of content for various genres of programming and a look into future scenarios and issues. (See below for links to the IDL and the conference schedule.)

The conference title was derived from two observations:

  • Interactive television is still 'emerging', so the term means different things to different people. It also lacks well-understood business models.

  • Given the above situation, there is an 'emergency' in finding/creating compelling content for the new medium.

Multiple ITV Applications

In the course of the discussions, it became clear that the words "Interactive TV" encompass several distinct applications:

  • "Enhanced TV" - in which a broadcast video program is augmented by viewer interaction. "Triggers" in the program or advertising place icons on the screen alerting the user to opportunities to interact with related content; once the user has finished interacting, he or she returns to the video content. In this application, the user is primarily in a passive or "lean-back" mode, occasionally moving to an active or "lean-forward" mode for a short time. The broadcast program remains active at all times - the interactive content is usually an overlay on the video.

  • "Internet on TV" - in which the metaphor derives from Internet interaction on a PC. This comes in two flavors: "open Internet" where the user is free to explore the entire range of Internet accessible content; and "the walled garden" where the user access is restricted to content allowed by the service provider. In this application, the user is primarily in an active or "lean-forward" mode. The broadcast program is replaced by the interactive content.

  • "Video on demand" or "VOD" - in which movies or other existing video content can be accessed by the user at will. Some would consider this part of "interactive TV" while other view is as a separate application - more an extension of existing television. Although the content already exists, there are problems with the business arrangements required to make the content available in a timely way, which depends on having a large enough user base to make it financially worthwhile to change the current business models. Since the business arrangements and not the content are creating the obstacles for this application, it was not the focus in much of the day's discussions.

Multiple ITV Platforms

The ITV industry is pursuing three distinct approaches to the "platform" for ITV. During the conference, these were called "single-box convergence," "two-box convergence" and "hand-held augmentation."

  • "Single-box convergence" is based on advanced digital set-top boxes such as the Motorola DCT 5000 and Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 6000, and can also be based on consumer-purchased set-tops from the consumer electronics industry based on CableLab's OpenCable initiative. While the cable TV industry has been promoting the "single box" approach for years, it has not yet resulted in a significant installed base of set-tops.

  • "Two-box convergence" refers to the growing movement to leverage the many households where users engage with both a PC and a TV in the same room during the same timeframe. An example would be watching the Super Bowl on TV and concurrently finding background and statistics on the teams and players on the PC.

  • "Hand-held augmentation" of the TV experience involves a user watching TV and using a hand-held device (like a Web-tablet) at their usual TV viewing location to control and enhance their experience.

"Single-Box Convergence" Has been delayed

Much of the "content emergency" stems from the long delay in delivering advanced digital set-top boxes. The cable industry has long viewed these advanced boxes, designed to handle a host of complex functions, as the only appropriate "platform" for interactive TV. While any digital set-top can be used for VOD, an advanced device is required for enhanced TV and Internet on TV.

While these advanced boxes were supposed to be widely deployed by now, only a handful have been installed. There is a "chicken and egg" problem - the absence of boxes discourages the development of content, and the absence of content discourages the installation of boxes.

Moreover, all current digital set-top boxes are based on proprietary standards established by each manufacturer. Content creators have set a goal of "write once-publish many" in which the same content could be created and used on a wide variety of hardware and software platforms. To fulfill this goal and address the "chicken and egg" problem, the cable industry has been working to define a "middleware standard" called the OpenCable Applications Platform specification (OCAP). This has not yet been published.

Many stakeholders are also concerned about cable operator's control of content and their desire to share in any new revenue streams from advanced boxes. Cable operators have not encouraged an open application environment on these boxes similar to the evolution of the Internet on the PC. Rather, they have adopted a closed model similar to HBO or America Online, with the operators deciding what content is available and sharing in the revenue.

One not so tongue-in-cheek observation about the difficulty of deploying new advanced set-tops comes from industry attitudes toward costs and functionality of set-tops as compared with PCs. One speaker observed that "cable operators want to put as little as possible into a box that costs $300 while PC makers want to put as much as possible into a box that costs $1000 (or less)!"

Two-Box Convergence

Much of the discussion of today's ITV was focused on "two-box convergence." (For the record, we feel that "two-box convergence", if not an oxymoron, is at least a problematic term. We'd much prefer such words as "two-screen experience" to describe what is happening.)

Advanced set top boxes are simply not deployed in volume and the necessary industry standards are not yet in place. So a content developer has a choice of waiting for a substantial base of advanced set-tops - which could take many years - or doing something now which addresses part of the problem and provides a step in that direction.

The premise behind the two-box approach is that many homes have a PC in the same room as a TV, and many users are already accustomed to using the PC while the TV is on. Thus it's a short stretch to provide PC content associated with or even synchronized to the TV content. While it may fall short of the ideal, it's available today in a large number of North American homes and is in tune with current user behavior. Its growth is a reflection of today's bottom-line consciousness and an attitude that favors pragmatism over glamor and pizzazz.

In the two-box approach, the online experience is synchronized to the associated TV program, with the objective of keeping the viewer tuned to the program - and the ads - longer. Statistics cited during the panels indicated that this was indeed the result. To make the investment in the PC Internet side worthwhile, it is often employed with the types of sports events and game shows where there is a large audience - examples are the Superbowl and "Who wants to be a millionaire?".

A strong benefit of this approach is expected to come as personal video recorders (PVRs) are increasingly adopted by consumers. PVRs are expected to substantially reduce the amount of "appointment viewing" that takes place - many believe that users will watch shows at their leisure and skip through the commercials. Play-along games require the viewer to watch a program in real time to have the complete experience - one speaker referred to these applications as "PVR-busters".

Hand-Held Augmentation

Although at first blush this sounds like a simple variation on two-box convergence - with the PC replaced by a hand-held - we think the model creates a fundamentally different user experience and holds the promise of solving a number of problems posed by the other two approaches. It seems much more natural to use a hand-held device for interaction ancillary to a TV program (or ad) than to switch attention -- and maybe physically move -- to the PC.

It also solves the problem of "screen real estate". In the one-box model, the linear video content and the interactive content are fighting for space on the screen. And the TV is pretty awful place for text, especially when viewed from a distance.

While we think the handheld augmentation model is very attractive - perhaps better than the "single-box" model -- wireless handheld touchscreen devices have yet to reach a consumer pricepoint. As the consumer electronics industry starts rolling out these devices and the prices come down, we expect to see more ITV development for this platform.

The Outlook For ITV

So where are we today in ITV's life-cycle in North America? The general consensus was that it's still in its infancy and won't be a mass market for quite a while.

Some of the most interesting presentations at the conference came from public television, which is doing significant innovative work today. With commercial entities experiencing tight budgets and finding it difficult to justify much experimentation while business models and technical direction are still emerging, it's a good time to support the funding and role of public TV.

Direct Broadcast Satellite or DBS (known as "DTH" in Europe) has moved faster than cable in deploying advanced boxes. Since competition is a great spur toward progress, the extent to which DBS puts increased emphasis on ITV should result in more rapid investment and deployments by cable operators. This is happening now with PVR functionality.

Observing how long ITV is taking to happen in North America, but also noting that ITV development is continuing even in the current environment, we think it's likely that ITV will develop by evolution, not revolution -- and evolution takes time. Businesses based on leveraging current user behavior, rather than trying to change it, are ones that are happening today.

We have long believed that PCs for all their flaws are here to stay and that any approach to ITV based on the concept of "replacing the PC" is doomed to failure. Thus we think that the "two-box approach", while clearly interim, is a realistic accommodation to the situation in North America.

To learn more about the conference, its speakers and the players in this space, please visit:

We'll be focusing on Interactive TV in a session at our upcoming BBH Fall 2001 conference. It's being organized by Paul Salzinger, VP Business Development at Excite@Home, the leading provider of cable modem services in North America. We expect that many of these issues will be discussed, and that we'll see some innovative approaches to ITV service platforms. See ( www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/details2.html#5 ) for the a description of the session.


Cable In Flanders - Visits with M-TEC Group and Telenet

Following the BBH Europe Summit conference in Amsterdam, we visited Belgium to meet with two companies that play a major role in the cable industry there. Both companies are based in Mechelen, a small city near Brussels in Flanders, the Flemish (Dutch)-speaking part of Belgium. While there, we became conscious of the language divisions in Belgium: people in Mechelen feel much more part of Flanders than of Belgium; both companies are part of the Flanders cable industry and focus their efforts on Flanders.

Cable Penetration in Belgium

We have long been interested in Belgium, since it has the highest cable penetration in the world: 95% of households are connected to cable. Studies have shown that there are more residential users connected to the cable network than to the telephone network. Unlike most other European countries, where the telephone company also traditionally provided cable service, Belgium has independent cable companies, many municipally owned.

M-TEC Group

We first visited with the M-TEC Group, a diversified technology company with major interests in power and communications. We met with William Watté, who heads their Wireless group, and with Geert Hendriks, who is Business Development Manager.

M-TEC Broadband is a principal technology provider to the Flemish cable industry, providing both plant and in-home equipment and systems for video and telephone services delivered over cable. It makes many of the pieces and parts and integrates other vendors' equipment to provide complete systems.

M-TEC Service provides a variety of services for cable and telephone companies, including installation, configuration, monitoring and data control.

MTEC Wireless, the newest division, focuses on wireless high-speed networking. It is developing modules based on 5GHz OFDM technology supporting several standards for different markets, including IEEE 802.11a and HiperLAN2. These products are designed for "whole-home networking" of audio, video, data, and telephony. William Watté was a speaker at the Amsterdam conference and will join us again in San Jose in October to report on the latest progress with wireless high-speed networking.

( www.mtecgroup.com ) ( www.mtecbroadband.com ) ( www.mtecwireless.com )

Telenet

M-TEC Group is a major supplier to Telenet, and arranged for us to meet with Paul Israel, Telenet's Director TV Advertising.

With 95% of Flemish-speaking homes already connected to cable, cable operators need to provide new services in order to increase revenue. In 1994, the Flemish government commissioned a study to see whether there was a market for new services delivered over a broadband network. That study resulted in the formation of Telenet, a consortium including all Flemish cable operators, with the mission to rebuild the existing cable infrastructure into a single interactive broadband network for telecommunications and multimedia.

Telenet provides cable services to 2.2 million homes representing 58% of the Belgian population (and substantially all of the Flemish-speaking population). Its majority owner as of early this year is Callahan Associates International, one of the leading cable communications operators in Europe with almost 22 million franchise homes.

Telenet has completed the backbone fiber network linking all Flanders cable systems, and is driving to finish rebuilding the local systems to modern standards. It started offering cable-based telephone and high-speed Internet services in 1998 and is rolling them out as it finishes rebuilding each system. It offers flat-rate Internet access using cable modems (10 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream) in a country where dial-up access is charged by the minute. Its telephone services operate with standard telephones.

Telenet is now working to develop interactive digital television. As it works to determine the suitable technical and services models for interactive TV, it is grappling with many of the same "chicken and egg" issues we discussed in the "ITV Content E-mergency" article elsewhere in this issue. Telenet has the advantage of having virtually the entire Flemish-speaking interest group as its existing customers, the entire Flemish-language content industry as its existing suppliers - many already providing local content which could be directed to either the PC or the TV, plus a strong local brand and strong backing from the Flemish government.

( www.telenet.be ) English:( www.telenet.be/english )


VOD Over Broadband - BitBand Inc.

In the previous issue (BBHR, July 19, 2001) we mentioned that "one of our Israeli delegates told us we really should visit Milan to see FastWeb's ambitious broadband business". David Milloh is VP Global Sales at BitBand, whose technology FastWeb uses to provide its video on demand (VOD) service. We were very appreciative of the introduction David provided and believe systems like BitBand's, which facilitate the move to IP TV, will grow in importance.

BitBand is a US company with headquarters in Israel. It provides streaming audio and video for broadband IP. Its product family includes both servers and content management tools.

BitBand's Vision family of "appliance-servers" was designed for broadband. It is based on a modular server occupying 1U (1.75") of rack space in a 19" rack. Each server can store up to 140GB of content in a variety of formats, and can provide up to 90 Mbps of streamed audio or audio/video. A single server can be used as a system, and servers can be stacked in clusters to increase capacity and availability. We believe that they are using off-the-shelf server hardware which will follow the cost curve of the computer/PC industry, and therefore have more favorable economics than systems based on proprietary hardware.

The decoder in the client system (a PC or digital set-top box) uses TCP to communicate with the server. It uses a memory buffer to allow for delays and retransmission between the server and the client; in effect, the buffer is "pre-loading" data from the server before the client needs it. Network problems - such as noise or heavy loading - are handled by retransmission at the TCP layer. With this approach, BitBand claims that it can achieve 90% loading of an Ethernet link - allowing 90Mbps of streamed content to be delivered over a "Fast Ethernet" (100 Mbps) link.

As service providers move to a "pure-fiber, pure-IP" architecture, video systems like BitBand's will play a major role in delivering "pure-IP TV".

( www.bitband.com )


We've Got Broadband!...the expensive way

Although we've both been involved in broadband for many years, and have been writing this newsletter for more than a year, we just got broadband in our house a few weeks ago. And we had to do it the expensive way - by installing a T1 line.

Our house is too far from the telephone central office for ADSL -- the whole town of Morris Plains where we live is about four miles from the CO and the ADSL limit is about three miles. Our cable operator is rebuilding the cable plant, but hasn't gotten to Morris Plains yet and hasn't been willing to let anyone know when they're likely to get here. We looked into two-way satellite service and discovered that we'd have to cut down several of our neighbors' trees to "see" the satellite from our roof.

Meanwhile, lots of people have encouraged us to try cool new broadband devices and services, and we kept apologizing for our phone and cable companies.

We finally decided the time had come put in a T1 line and a Cisco router. We also kept our ISDN line and ISDN router as backup - fortunately, because we experienced several outages of the T1 line. We wouldn't pretend that this is suitable for many homes - it's horribly expensive - but at least we've joined the broadband revolution.

In future issues, we'll report on our experiences with broadband content and new broadband devices.

By the way, the T1 line required a commitment for a year's service. It hadn't been working for two weeks when we got a card from our cable operator saying cable modem service is "coming soon" to Morris Plains!

See ( www.thebroadbandhome.com/report/backissues/Report0004.html#Personal ) for more about our home infrastructure.


Broadband Home Fall 2001: San Jose, October 1-3 - "Early bird" expires August 17th

You won't want to miss the great line-up of industry perspective speakers, topics and panelists at what promises to be our best event yet! You can save $200 by registering before August 17th. The theme is "Delivering the Promise" and we'll focus on whether all the broadband hype is justified by the emerging reality. Here's a sampling of what you'll hear:

Is there still money to invest in broadband? We'll explore views with noted investors Guy Kawasaki of Garage Technology Ventures, Gary Lauder of Lauder Partners, Stewart Alsop of New Enterprise Associates (and columnist at Fortune Magazine), Bart Schachter of Blueprint Ventures, Peter Gardner of Allegis Capital and Kelly Porter of Zap Ventures.

What is the future for all the competing residential access technologies? Is fiber to the home the end-game? And if so, when? Companies both large and small will share their views -- including Sprint, Wildblue, Cisco, Competisys, a major cable player and more.

And what about the current emphasis on broadband voice? Will it be the "killer app"? Is it ready? How do the economics work? And do the traditional players or the new entrants really benefit from all this? Last but not least, what's the visible device and services the consumer will see in the home?

There's lots more, so check out the conference details, schedule and the participating companies at http://www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/ . In response to past requests, we've included a detailed description of each session to help you decide which break-outs you'll attend - see http://www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/details2.html .

We continue to hear stories from former conference attendees about the business deals they have consummated as a result of people they met at past conferences. As always, we'll have plenty of networking opportunities, including a reception Sunday evening, an all-conference party Tuesday evening and time at breaks and lunches for schmoozing.

Seating for the conference is limited. If you are thinking about attending, we suggest that you register soon at http://www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/register.html . If you plan to attend and will require a hotel room, we recommend that you make your hotel reservation as soon as possible at http://www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/hotel.html to take advantage of the special conference rate.

Some sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are still available. If you are interested, act soon by contacting Stu Milberg at stu@pulver.com or (631) 547-0800 or visit http://www.thebroadbandhome.com/bbhfall/exhibit.html .


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Please send your comments and feedback regarding this issue of our report to editor@bb-home.com. Your suggestions for topics to be covered in future issues would be greatly appreciated.

Sandy Teger and Dave Waks
Sandy and Dave's Report on The Broadband Home
Originally published as The Broadband Home Report
July 31, 2001

editor@bb-home.com
http://BroadbandHomeCentral.com/report



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