RealTime IT News

Excite@Home Launches Advanced TV; Links With Microsoft, Liberate

Excite@Home Corp. established a pair of partnerships designed to propagate Wednesday's launch of its advanced digital television applications and services.

According to George Bell, Excite@Home (ATHM) president, the deals with Microsoft Corp. and Liberate Technologies will help Excite@Home open a new era in interactive television and broadband services for consumers.

Bell said that Excite@Home's Advanced TV would transform television sets from receivers of broadcast programming into interactive portals.

"Advanced TV will transform television from receivers of broadcast programming into portals of two-way, broadband networks," Bell said. "This will not only open up new markets for broadband Internet access, but will also redefine TV programming and advertising as we know them today."

Bell added that Excite@Home's advanced TV solutions program leverages the company's broadband technologies, operations and network infrastructure, which already serve more than one million broadband cable modem subscribers nationwide.

"Excite@Home's vast experience and success in delivering broadband content and services gives us a real jumpstart on the market," Bell said. "Virtually all of our infrastructure, experience and relationships in broadband services can be applied to advanced television."

Excite@Home intends to develop and deliver its advanced TV services in close association with its cable industry partners. For cable subscribers, these technologies increase the level of interactivity with Internet content to provide a diverse array of information and entertainment services.

Excite@Home and Microsoft (MSFT) announced they are in discussions to form a strategic relationship to ooperate in the development and deployment of enhanced television technology and services.

The collaboration would strengthen and broaden both companies' two-year working relationship with a focus on accelerating the rollout of enhanced television services through set-top boxes and other devices.

One way the companies hope to speed the delivery of this technology is by reducing Multiple System Operators deployment barriers, including the need to integrate new television services with existing cable operations.

More than 20 MSOs already have an exclusive partnership with Excite@Home for delivery of broadband data services to nearly 60 million homes passed by cable.

The collaboration has two key elements; Excite@Home would develop its broadband TV portal application, user interface, and broadband applications and services to work on the Microsoft TV Platform. In return, Microsoft would work with Excite@Home to extend their proprietary platform to support ubiquitous enhanced TV cable systems.

Adam Grosser, @Home subscriber services president, said the company intends to transform television viewing, in the same way they're revolutionizing high-speed Internet access.

"As the leading provider of broadband services to the home, Excite@Home will be able to do for the television viewer what we've already done for cable modem subscribers, who can now use their personal computers to access media-rich content, new applications and broadband services through the Web," Grosser said.

"The challenges of realizing enhanced television's market potential are enormous; it will take both of us, utilizing our respective strengths in support of our cable industry partners, to quickly realize the full potential of this new industry," Grosser added.

Phil Goldman, Microsoft general manager of the TV platform division, said Excite@Home is in a unique positionto sup