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Comcast Meda Center, Motorola Expand Video Options For Smaller Ops

Comcast Media Center and Motorola are launching an enhanced version of their turnkey HITS Quick Take Plus service, which now lets smaller cable customers distribute any of the standard-def or HD services in the HITS Quantum lineup.

The HITS QT+ service includes hardware, software, operating services and programming. As part of the enhancements, Motorola also has added impulse pay-per-view capability to the service's headend management system.

"The really small markets have been waiting for us to get this done for a while," CMC senior vice president and COO Gary Traver said. "This is a great, easy, inexpensive way for them to grow their HD services."

CMC and Motorola announced their plans a year ago to deliver such a turnkey service that would enable small operators to deliver all-digital programming.

CMC will begin the activation of the HITS QT+ features in March and expects to complete the process by April. HITS Quantum provides more than 280 linear digital video and audio services, including 21 HDTV MPEG-2 channels.

The conditional access for HITS QT+ is an "in-band authorization scheme," Traver said, which required upgrading the software on CMC's satellite transponders. "We've structured conditional access in a way that eliminates a ton of equipment that would be ordinarily be necessary," he said.

HITS QT+ works with any Motorola set-top, or a set-top box with a Motorola CableCard.

Separately, CMC is announcing that three operators have joined its interactive TV services program as beta testers: BendBroadband, Sunflower Broadband and MetroCast Communications. Previously, Buckeye CableSystem said it would serve as a beta site for CMC's HITS Advanced Interactive Services (AxIS) platform, which provides a means to deliver applications based on the EBIF and tru2way specifications.

"We feel that our relationship with the CMC is key to bringing rich interactive applications to our customers," BendBroadband chief technology officer Frank Miller said in a statement.