Road Runner Gives Helix Cable Entree

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As part of the update to its new upgrade, Road Runner will be using Real Networks Inc.'s Real Player 10 media player, as well as the company's Helix universal server technology.

These back-office upgrades will help Road Runner provide its subscribers with more of the broadband content features the high-speed access provider announced last week.

The deal was the first for Real's Helix software in the cable space. Helix allows service providers to take audio and video content in any format — whether Real, Apple Computer Corp.'s QuickTime or Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media Player — and stream it through to consumers on broadband connections.

"The work Road Runner is doing there is pioneering," Real Networks chairman and CEO Rob Glaser said.

The deal will allow Road Runner "to move large files intelligently through a network into the home," Real senior vice president Carla Stratfold said. "People want choice in their operating systems and formats."

The deal will make it simpler for Road Runner subscribers to view or listen to multimedia content.

Instead of downloading the various media players, Road Runner subscribers would only need RealPlayer 10. Combined with Helix, it plays any audio or video clip, even if those clips originated in Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

Real Networks will place an unspecified number of Helix servers throughout Road Runner's regional data backbone infrastructure.

Road Runner also should be able to more easily offer tiered premium services, having greater control over the allocation and management of streaming capacity. "We're building out the enabling infrastructure," Stratfold said.

In addition to the redesign, Road Runner also said it would offer antivirus and firewall software from Computer Associates Inc.

Road Runner subscribers can use CA's Trust EZ Armor antivirus and firewall desktop security suite at no charge. The software normally retails for $49.95.

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