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Add users, not bandwidth

A new entry in the VOD space is PrediWave. The San Jose and Fremont, Calif.-based company plans to demonstrate at the Western Show (in a hotel suite) a new digital broadband delivery system that, it says, does not require increased bandwidth as the number of users increases, unlike with other systems.

Currently deployed at a cable MSO in China, PrediWave's technology features integrated VOD and digital programming as well as (optional) PVR functionality.

The company says its approach saves bandwidth by statistically distributing data across a digital bit stream. The packet-based system sends data at specific times, so that users can start, stop and pause a title whenever they choose and not affect anyone else accessing that same title.

"The information is actually being multicast," said Tom Elliott, PrediWave senior adviser of business development, a CableLabs co-founder and former Telecommunications Inc. executive. "It's a very different technique as opposed to today's VOD methods that require a dedicated server port and chunk of bandwidth for each user. Our technology requires only one server port per title."

Elliott added that the system requires special set-top boxes (manufactured by PrediWave overseas) incorporating the company's proprietary micro technology in consumers' homes and specialized video servers and other hardware at the headend. The system can be expanded to include interactive TV, streaming media, online games and high-speed Internet access.