Concurrent Readies Personal-TV Offering

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Concurrent Computer Corp. will use next month's Western Show to unveil personal-video channel capability for cable operators as part of its video-server product line.

The company hopes to try the personal-video channel with an unnamed MSO in the next three to four months, said Jack Bryant, Concurrent's new president.

Concurrent proposes that operators encode the video signals they deliver to subscribers for storage and playback at a later time. Both advertisers and content copyright holders would have to sign on to such a system.

"We will pull together all the appropriate parties for the test," Bryant said.

Bryant said MSOs could store the encoded material, such as soap operas, on a server for subscribers to tap later.

The service would differ from Tivo Inc. and ReplayTV Inc., he said, because subscribers wouldn't have to pre-program their viewing requests.

The personal-video channel is one of several video-on-demand offshoots that Concurrent is pursing.

Bryant also said MSOs are beginning to look at storing infomercials on VOD servers. Viewers interested in exercise equipment or a Ford Expedition, for example, could access an infomercial via Concurrent's VOD system, he said.

Concurrent has deployed VOD with Time Warner Cable in Tampa, Fla., and Honolulu, and Cox Communications in San Diego and Phoenix. The Time Warner systems are reporting 100-percent-plus buy-rates, Bryant said.

Bryant said 50,000 of Oceanic Cable's 250,000 subscribers in Honolulu can access VOD. In Tampa, some 70,000 of the system's 900,000 subscribers can access VOD.

At the Western Show, Concurrent will showcase subscription VOD; streaming to PCs for distance learning or corporate training; and video streaming over digital-subscriber line service.

Concurrent is testing VOD over DSL in China, but Bryant sees limited U.S. application for the technology.

"I'm not convinced the business model is a winning proposition," he said, referring to the Blockbuster-Enron deal to deliver VOD through twisted-copper pair lines.

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