Home Network, Bandwidth Newbies Hit TechXNY


A new home-networking player and a nascent bandwidth expansion venture — united by a desire to make cable their primary marketplace — showed their stuff last week at TechXNY, one of the computer industry's major annual convention stops.

With the sweltering summer temperatures outside the Jacob Javits Convention Center, Listman Home Technologies Inc. sought to generate heat inside the building with demonstrations of its UnitedHome control software.

The Atlanta-based company said its software affords cable subscribers the ability to maneuver different appliances — like stereos, thermostats and lights — from their TV sets, using a wireless hand-held keyboard that is slightly larger than most remote control devices.

According to Listman president Jimmy Fortuna, users, with the help of on-screen prompts, could set up personal digital music jukeboxes with songs or music videos from stereo or DVD players. The software also facilitates the presentation of digital camera and home security video on TVs, and is compatible with most digital-cable set-top boxes, operating systems and middleware.

Fontana, a former Viacom Inc. executive, said the company will hold a steady round of conversations with cable operators this month.

"We feel cable subscribers are a natural for our product, and partnership deals with the industry is the way to go," Fortuna said. Operators would sell both the service and wireless keyboard, or team up with consumer electronics retailers on marketing them. Pricing has not been determined.

Meanwhile, Photonuum Inc. was making its pitch to the growing cable-bandwidth expansion arena to angel investor and venture capital sources. Based in Skillman, N.J., Photonuum hopes to carve out a share of operator business in the field with Intersceptre, a noise reduction frequency feed deployed at cable headends. Company officials said Intersceptre can increase a cable system's bandwidth capacity as much as 40 percent.

Photonuum is raising $2 million for a field trial of its expansion technology. Preliminary talks with several MSOs have started, said company CEO Ronald Fulton.

"Cable operators know they need a quality, secure, stable bandwidth environment to handle all the new services and products their customers will demand," said Fulton. "By unblocking some of the bottlenecks that restrict capacity, we can help them attain a much more robust network."

Fulton estimated that operators would pay about $500 for headend hardware taking in the Intersceptre feed and distributing it down their hybrid fiber/coax plant. The price for the feed itself will be set later, after Photonuum conducts its field trial.