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SeaChange Foresees High VOD Penetration

9/24/2000 8:00 PM Eastern

SeaChange International Inc. said it has started shipping its new, high-density "ITV MediaCluster 4000" video server, which it claims enables cable operators to offer video-on-demand programming to 20,000 subscribers and a library of 1,000 feature-length films from a single rack.

"This [product] is about looking at how to handle video-on-demand OD when it becomes more highly penetrated," SeaChange vice president of interactive technologies Yvette Gordon said.

Using the company's patented MediaCluster technology, the IMC4000 allows a single copy of digitally stored video to support "thousands" of simultaneous viewers.

That way, all of the servers and computers on the VOD network don't work as one entity. With the entire data load balanced, if a server fails, another takes over, ensuring that subscribers don't suddenly lose their service, Gordon said.

Because the IMC4000 uses 18-gigabyte drives rather than more expensive 36- or 72-gigabite drives, SeaChange estimates that VOD costs can be reduced by more than $100 per stream.

Since each rack unit can cram up to 10 servers, the IMC4000 can be used in centralized headend infrastructures or scattered among the hubs that populate cable networks, Gordon said. The arrangement allows operators to support large or small systems that provide VOD service, she added.

"If possible, cable operators tend to want to put (servers) in the hubs to save on fiber costs," Gordon said.

SeaChange offered a sneak preview of the IMC4000 at this year's National Show in New Orleans. The company has bigger plans in store for November's Western Show.

Gordon said SeaChange plans to show off a cluster of 24 video servers at its booth. Able to support 1,500 VOD customers per server, the company's demo essentially will provide enough streaming capacity to serve a city of 36,000 customers.

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