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Faust's ClearBand Eyes Comcast Trial

TV-to-PC software provider ClearBand LLC heads into the National Show this week with a new chief executive officer, James Faust, and its first MSO marketing test deal with Comcast Corp.

"We give the cable operator the opportunity to offer streaming to the PC in the home within the walled garden," said Faust, who's spent time in executive positions at Antec Corp., Scientific-Atlanta Inc., General Instrument Corp. (now part of Motorola Inc.) and Zenith Electronics Corp. Most recently, he was CEO of Evolve Products, a developer of advanced-TV control systems.

Faust joins ClearBand in the midst of technical trials with four of the top seven MSOs; Comcast is the first publicly announced participant. Using ClearBand software, these MSOs are delivering the same cable-video signals seen on TV sets to PCs inside the home.

"By using ClearBand's digital-broadcasting system, MSOs could offer their broadband subscribers new viewing options on additional screens in the home with full addressability, creating new potential revenue streams," Comcast senior vice president of new media development Steve Craddock said in a statement.

Comcast and ClearBand said they've completed a first set of technical trials at the MSO's corporate headquarters and in its Willow Grove, Pa., system. Further trials will focus on delivering traditional RF (radio-frequency) channel networks and digital Internet protocol video channels.

Comcast ran ClearBand through a series of tests across a number of cable-modem platforms. ClearBand encoded and multicast live video through cable modems at speeds ranging from 300 kilobits per second to 2 megabits per second. ClearBand's ClearViewer application was downloaded to subscribers' PCs to decode and play the content.

Comcast now plans to conduct a marketing trial using different channels and pricing packages.

ClearBand vice president of marketing Jeff Huppertz also said the company will likely offer a personal video recorder option by the Western Show. Further tests will delve into applications such as the delivery of business-news TV channels to corporate networks.

Huppertz said operators could offer different packages of networks to subscribers.

"For as little as $3 a month, operators can have a substantial increase in their cash flow," he said.

Programmers are excited about ClearBand, Huppertz added, because it represents a private and secure way to send content to the PC. ClearBand could help to reduce churn, sell cable modems and package modem-rate increases with content, Huppertz said.

Faust also sees MSOs using ClearBand in the enterprise market by selling packages of cable networks to businesses. ClearBand's technology works over most existing IT/Ethernet wiring in office buildings and with office PCs.