Comcast Adds Music to Philly Trial

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Ucentric Systems said Comcast Corp. plans to add its Whole Home Music 1.0 application as part of its Philadelphia-area home networking trial with Samsung Electronics America Inc.

The music application allows consumers to distribute digital music files across a home network, and thus play downloaded music on their stereo systems while using the TV as the selection screen.

"The Ucentric music application is a natural extension of our multi-TV [digital video recording] trial, with both applications focusing on delivering a dynamic whole-home entertainment solution for our customers," Comcast Cable senior vice president of new media development Steve Craddock said in a statement.

That test is scheduled to launch later in January.

The Comcast trial uses Samsung digital set-tops that incorporate Ucentric's digital home software suite, allowing for multiroom DVR functionality. Separately, Comcast has begun rolling out Scientific-Atlanta DVRs in its S-A markets and it is awaiting volume delivery of Motorola's DVR for other markets.

The music application represents a wider commitment to content on the home-networking platform. As cable-modem penetration increases, it's easier for consumers to download music onto PCs.

Cable needs to look at music applications for a number of reasons, Ucentric CEO Michael Collette said.

"If they don't, there will be rival products that do," said Collette. "The media center goes beyond video services. PC companies are creating music and video appliances and the question is which box is on top."

The PC industry makes money by charging for music while the TV industry makes money charging for video, Collette said.

"Cable should be looking for ways to capture that PC-based revenue by offering music services on TV," he said, because

Silicon Valley companies are looking for ways to put video signals into their product lineup. The first step, he said, is Microsoft Corp.'s XP media center, which features music, audio and photos.

"You want to use the TV as the primary media center and use the TV to schedule music on your stereo," said Collette. "It's more about control at the TV rather than playback at the TV. It's an opportunity to capture an emerging consumer behavior."

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