Charter Gives ICTV a Proving Ground6/19/2001 5:45 AM Eastern
Giving ICTV Inc. its first true test in the United States, Charter
Communications Inc. said it plans to roll out the company's digital
interactive-television platform in Kalamazoo, Mich.
That system is a former Bresnan Communications property that passes about
72,000 homes. Charter inherited the ICTV deal when it acquired the system, MSO
vice president of corporate development and technology David Housman said.
'This was a contract that survived the acquisition and was originally slated
for Bay City' (another former Bresnan system in Michigan), Housman said. 'We
just found it easier to move this over to Kalamazoo, where we could isolate
Bresnan originally tested ICTV's analog product in Bay City in the late
Housman declined to disclose the financial terms of the 'multiyear' deal with
ICTV. 'If [ICTV's digital platform] proves to be stable, there's potential
long-term opportunity,' he added.
Following a battery of technical tests and software integration, Charter
plans to commercially launch ICTV's headend-centric platform commercially
sometime this fall and offer electronic-mail and Web-browsing applications to
its digital customers in Kalamazoo. Charter has deployed Motorola Broadband
Communications Sector 'DCT-2000' digital boxes there.
Charter has also deployed WorldGate Communications Inc.'s thin-client e-mail
and Web-browsing service in a number of markets. WorldGate, like ICTV, has
preached a headend-centric approach for interactive-TV applications.
The Charter deployment 'affords us the opportunity to demonstrate not only
the functional capabilities of our system, but also the impact of the consumer
services we enable,' ICTV chairman and CEO Robert Clasen said in a press
release. ICTV officials were not immediately available for further comment.
The Charter announcement comes at a critical time for ICTV and its
thin-client architecture. Rumors have swirled that the privately held company is
in need of additional capital to stay alive.
In September, ICTV inked a letter of intent with Cox Communications Inc. to
test the company's digital platform in a 'large Cox market,' but that trial
hasn't occurred. Although ICTV has maintained that Cox broke that agreement, Cox
officials have noted that the deal was nonbinding.