Unisys Eyes VOD Market

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The video-on-demand group at Unisys Corp. is out to play in the higher end of the VOD market.

Unisys is well aware of the large number of VOD trials under way and of the early VOD commercial rollouts, but it said those are just the beginning.

"Several MSOs have indicated that there is no relationship whatsoever between the vendors that are participating in the trials and [those that] will actually be selected to provide the VOD system," said Phil Bench, strategic marketing-program manager for VOD at Unisys. "Most if not all MSOs are signaling that they want to do whatever it takes to foster a multivendor environment."

Bench talked about "RSVP," which, for cable operators eager to enter the VOD market, stands for "reliability, scalability, value and profitability."

He said Unisys has deployed its "e-@ction" VOD solution for a trial in Europe. It uses a combination of a Unisys "iX" platform functioning as a multimedia-applications server, coupled to "ES 7000 Enterprise Servers" on the video-pump side.

The overall emphasis on VOD at Unisys is characterized as in tune with the demands at the higher end of the VOD curve.

"We do not dispute the models that suggest a break-even at 1,000 streams, but we are more eager to start at around 5,000 streams, and a VOD flow in the range of 7,200 streams is really our sweet spot," Bench said. "The better profit margins and profit curves are up in this neighborhood."

Bench indicated that Unisys was rethinking its strategy as the interactive-TV dimension grows in importance. A partnership with Prasara Technologies-which is merging with PowerTV Inc.-underscores this refining of the VOD product line at Unisys.

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