NCTA Briefs

SA offers xOD

Scientific-Atlanta introduced xOD, a new video-on-demand application that runs on Explorer digital set-top boxes with the SARA digital navigator. The company says it allows the operator to bring VOD-type navigation to SVOD services. Features include dual branding of both the cable operator's and the content provider's logos and the ability for content providers to bring direct-to-screen promotions to viewers. Launch is expected next month following trials that have already begun.

Phone Safari

MetroCast Cablevision, with subscribers in New Hampshire and Maine, will begin voice-over-IP field trials of Cedar Point's Safari C3 media switching system this summer. The trial will be used in systems passing 90,000 homes in Belmont and Rochester, N.H., and Sanford, Maine. Safari C3 uses a single CableLabs PacketCable-based voice-switching chassis to distribute Class 5-like voice services.

Liberate's TV Guide

A Java-based version of TV Guide's interactive program guide will soon be available on the Liberate TV Platform Compact software that runs on Motorola DCT2000 set-top boxes. Todd Walker, TV Guide Interactive senior VP and GM, says the standards-driven version of the company's IPG presents new opportunities for its distribution.

BigBand, Triveni deal

BigBand Networks and Triveni Digital are co-developing a system designed to allow cable operators to deliver off-air DTV signals. Components are Triveni Digital's ATSC-Cable StreamBridge metadata groomer and BigBand Networks' broadband multimedia-service router (BMR). The BMR interfaces with the StreamBridge so operators can create mutiplexes combining SDTV and HDTV at bit rates they're comfortable with.

Seachange teams up with MetaTV

Video-server maker SeaChange International and interactive-TV-software provider MetaTV will work together to integrate MetaTV's iTV platform with SeaChange's VOD system. The companies believe the move will make it easier for cable operators to provide virtual program channels to viewers.

TVN gets Insight

Insight Communications has selected TVN as the programming, transport and asset-management provider of the cable MSO's video-on-demand services. Both companies will aggregate the content, to be distributed via TVN's Adoniss asset-management platform and secure satellite transmission. TVN will provide docking stations at Insight's headends and will also encode and archive content before transporting it via IP over satellite.

Time Warner taps N2

Time Warner Cable has begun deploying N2 Broadband's MediaPoint Business Management System (BMS) across multiple Time Warner divisions, giving the MSO a standard billing-system interface for VOD and other on-demand services. The two companies developed the Interactive Services Architecture (ISA) that BMS is based on, allowing operators to separate management of the VOD back office from the system itself.

iTV alliance

Interactive-TV companies have formed the Interactive Television Alliance to drive iTV demand and deployment. Consumer-awareness plans are top of the agenda. According to iTV Alliance President Ben Mendelson, more than 30 companies are already participating, and more than 100 others are ready to join. Canal+, Liberate, OpenTV, Wink and WorldGate are among participating companies. Plans already call for the creation of a 30-minute TV show customized for each network operator, magazine supplements, online information and public demonstrations of iTV.

AT&T Hits liberated

AT&T's Headend in the Sky (HITS) will make Liberate's interactive services available to its nearly 300 MSO affiliates beginning June 15. Initial content will include information tickers and games, but Liberate says upgrades for such services as video-on-demand, interactive advertising and e-commerce will be developed. Cable operators that use Motorola DCT2000 set-top boxes will be able to offer the service without modifying existing plants.

Digeo finds Charter

Digeo's Basic interactive-TV application is now available to more than 550,000 Charter Communications subs with Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 2100 and 3100 digital set-top boxes. The service includes interactive channels for on-demand news in entertainment and sports as well as shopping.

Getting the gist of VOD

Gist Communications debuted its VOD Guide, for use in VOD and SVOD systems. A filter system allows films to be sorted by MPAA rating, critical rating, genre and other categories. It can interface with any VOD/SVOD server system and can run on any of the major middleware platforms, according to Gist.

Charter taps Convergys

Charter Communications signed a five-year contract with Convergys for outsourcing billing services. Convergys will operate Charter's customer-care and billing system in a Convergys data center. Charter will use the ICOMS system, including its Web-based self-care offerings, to support product rollout and bundling.