Cox to Deploy Into Networks Play Now

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Software streamer Into Networks Inc. has struck a deployment deal with the No. 5 U.S. MSO and has lured a former Road Runner executive to serve as its chief operating officer.

Cox Communications Inc. agreed to launch Into's "Play Now" service to about 45,000 Cox@Home high-speed-data customers in Omaha, Neb.; Wichita, Kan.; Fairfax County; Va.; and Oklahoma City, beginning later this summer.

So far, more than 700,000 homes have "one-click access" to Play Now, the company said. Into also has deployment deals in place with AT & T Broadband, Comcast Cable Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable and digital-subscriber-line operators NorthPoint Communications Inc. and U S West (now Qwest Communications International Inc.).

Using a distributed network of servers located at the edge of broadband networks, Into's platform offers "hundreds" of CD-ROM games and business and educational titles on-demand.

Flynn-Ripley, Road Runner's former vice president of corporate development, said that in her new role, she plans to take Into "to the next level."

"Software distribution is about to be redefined," she said. "We have a lot of partnerships signed and we're in the process of rolling out rapidly. (Joining Into) was too good an offer to turn down."

During her tenure at Road Runner, Flynn-Ripley was involved in a deal that made Play Now the data service's exclusive provider of broadband CD-ROM software.

Into's latest announcements also turn up the competitive heat in the software-on-demand sphere.

According to Allan McLennan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at software-

on-demand company Media Station, his company's SelectPlay service is available to more than 700,000 homes, as well.

"Our deployment agreements are fairly level with [those of] Into Networks," he said. Media Station has distribution pacts with Comcast, Time Warner, AT & T Broadband, Sprint, Broadwing, U S West and Internet Express, a DSL provider based in San Diego, he noted.

Media Station and Into declined to provide specific subscriber numbers. However, McLennan said Media Station's SelectPlay subs are in the "five figures area at this time."

Both companies said they plan to announce additional deployment agreements shortly.

"Competition is good, and it validates the market," Flynn-Ripley noted.