Pulse-Link Makes Op Rounds

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As entrepreneurs anticipate using the Federal Communications Commission's recent approval of ultra wideband wireless frequencies to craft or enhance multichannel competition to the cable industry, one technology vendor has developed a way that MSOs can harness that technology to widen the channel capacity of their systems.

Pulse-Link Inc. is conducting a round of meetings with operators to showcase UWB-Cable, a transmission process that delivers hundreds of megabits of new bandwidth over existing cable plant, without modifying the plant itself.

The San Diego-based vendor maintains that by employing the process, operators can at least double their channel capacity — before using video compression techniques — in order to accommodate video-on-demand, interactive TV and high-definition TV, as well as voice and data services.

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According to company president and COO Bruce Watkins, two of the top five MSOs had visited Pulse-Link for a look by early last week, with more key operator meetings set for the rest of July. He declined to name the companies.

The company has also contacted Cable Television Laboratories Inc. about its work, and plans to exhibit at Broadband Plus (formerly the Western Show) in December. By then, Watkins hinted, Pulse-Labs may have a field trial running at a cable system near the show's site in Anaheim, Calif.

Operators would receive the ultra-wideband (UWB) frequency from a central source, and funnel it through special headend hardware compatible with the feed. In order for subscribers to access channels or services transmitted over the feed, they would need to be hooked up to a special plug-in device connected to their cable connection and digital set-top box, Watkins said.

"Originally, we concluded that the feed could pump as much as one gigabit of new capacity," he said. "But based on tweaking we've done the last few weeks, along with feedback from people attending our meetings, we think we can go above two gigabits of extra capacity, and that could end up being the bottom floor of what this technology can do."

'SHIELDED MEDIUM'

Although the FCC approved UWB frequencies, the agency stipulated that they be used at a certain power level. That stipulation doesn't apply to Pulse-Link's work, because the wireless transmission that happens inside cable plant is considered a shielded medium.

"Since our signal doesn't radiate out into the air, we can pump down a higher power level of frequency, so that operators can get the maximum amount of data, voice, and video we can put on top of their existing service," said Watkins.

Pulse-Link is also holding meetings with technology vendors, in order to line up one or more strategic partners to produce the headend gear and home-reception units. The headend gear would cost operators from $15,000 to $30,000, and the home device about $200 per unit.

The company has raised about $5 million in financing so far, all from private investors. Officials will launch a campaign to obtain additional financing later this summer, following reaction to the operator and vendor meetings.

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