Pace Tech VP Thinks Outside the Box

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In addition to set-top box innovations, Pace Micro Technology-The Americas also will move forward on plans to incorporate new technologies with which it hopes to grab the attention of domestic MSOs and other broadband-service providers.

That's the plan proffered by vice president of technology Graham Williams, who recently assumed technical command of Pace's cable, digital subscriber line, digital terrestrial, wireless and satellite efforts in North and South America.

In the U.S. cable sector, Pace remains in the uncustomary position of playing from behind, compared to some market-leading positions it has established in the U.K. and other parts of Europe. On the U.S. cable front, its lone beachheads come in the form of deployment deals with Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp.

"We have our foot in the door with Time Warner and Comcast, and we want to build on that and bring new features and price improvements and bring competition to the market and innovate," said Graham, who has been with Pace since 1989.

Pace already has shown a penchant for innovation. Earlier this year, for example, the company inked a deal to integrate Sega Corp.'s Dreamcast console gaming platform into forthcoming digital-cable and satellite set-tops with on-board hard drives. Whether that decision will lead to orders remains to be seen.

While forging more deals with U.S. cable operators is one of Pace's primary goals, over the longer term, the company will continue its search for technologies that will make a future impact.

Among them, the most immediately visible are on-board personal video recorders and home-networking components, Graham said.

"The PVR is high profile, but it's not mass-market today," he said. Incorporating that technology is still rather cost-prohibitive, Graham added, noting the high price of silicon integration and hard drives.

Pace also has an entire division focused on home networking and Internet appliances such as the Gateway Expander, which uses the DECT (Digital European Cordless Telecommunication) protocol. The company also has explored using the PWT (Personal Wireless Telecommunications) standard — a DECT variant — in the U.S.

Though most of Pace's momentum in this area is based in Europe, it will keep a close eye as U.S. home networking protocol standards emerge.

Of those two, the PVR "is the next big thing," followed by home networking, Graham said.

Further down the line, Pace will focus on audio and video streaming via Internet protocol. "Those technologies will reduce bandwidth and add services," Graham said.

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