Start-Up Wireless Service Inks Antenna Deal

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U.S. Digital Television Inc., which is launching a wireless cable service, has partnered with Dotcast Inc. and Winegard Co. to develop a compact indoor/outdoor antenna that improves digital and high-definition over-the-air reception.

"This antenna will allow USDTV to provide subscribers in difficult reception areas with reliable, clear reception, and it enables USDTV to substantially expand its potential customer base," USDTV president and CEO Steve Lindsley said.

"This partnership is another critical element in our efforts to create a national infrastructure for a quality, low-cost subscription-TV service," he added.

The new antenna will be available to USDTV subscribers as a compact, 22-inch tube that can be unobtrusively mounted on a TV set or placed along a windowsill, balcony railing or edge of a roof. The antenna is flexible in that it can be mounted indoors or outdoors.

The antenna will help to facilitate USDTV’s new service, which has soft-launched in Salt Lake City. Using digital bandwidth leased from TV stations, USDTV is offering a multicasting service for $19.95 per month that includes local TV stations, local HDTV-broadcast signals and nearly one-dozen cable networks.

Despite its compact size, the new antenna has reception capabilities that are better than those of large, outdoor mast antennas with six-foot spans, according to USDTV. In addition, the antenna will cover the entire frequency range from low VHF through UHF, which will give subscribers access to all digital-broadcast channels.

Based on Dotcast’s patent-pending, low-noise amplifier-system technology, the antenna provides omnidirectional reception for markets with geographically separated transmitter sites, yet provides automated directional capability for difficult coverage areas.

The new antenna system will be manufactured by Winegard.

"This agreement with USDTV represents our first major initiative with Dotcast to introduce the next generation of advanced digital antennas," said Bob Howell, Winegard’s director of distribution systems, off-air antenna division.

"The Dotcast engineers have designed a truly remarkable and unique technology," Howell added. "This innovative new technology has superior reception characteristics for such a small antenna system and is unlike anything the industry has seen to date."