Atlanta -- Scientific-Atlanta Inc. bolstered its
video-on-demand partner list last week, signing what it described as a "nonbinding
letter of intent" with Concurrent Computer Corp. to collaborate on VOD systems.
S-A, which is already linked with video-server provider
SeaChange International Inc., said the move is part of its overall plan to support a range
of VOD solutions by working with multiple server vendors.
The alliance will combine Concurrent's
"MediaHawk" server with S-A's Explorer 2000 digital set-tops and associated
Concurrent's server is scaleable to support more than 1,000
digital-video streams, executives said.
E. Courtney Siegel, chairman, president and CEO of Fort
Lauderdale, Fla.-based Concurrent, said in a prepared statement that its MediaHawk server
"is an excellent fit with S-A's two-way digital network."
In its new arrangement with S-A, Concurrent enters a
marketplace that appears to suddenly be flooded with competitors: Intertainer Inc. and
Diva Systems Inc. are already bankrolled and ready to go in several U.S. cable systems,
while at least four other vendors are in the wings.
Cable executives and their potential VOD vendors have said
that a more unified standards environment, plunging server and storage-space costs and
cable-network upgrades have all blended to create market conditions that may finally
support on-demand viewing of movies and video content.
Most have said that they're keeping a watchful eye on how
vendors are pricing their products, noting that cost-per-bit-stream numbers don't address
only the flow of information out of a server, but also other necessary headend-electronics
and network components.
Comcast Corp., which invested in Intertainer earlier this
year, plans to test the IP-based (Internet protocol) solution this year, while Diva is
already operational in systems owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., Lenfest Communications
Corp. and others.