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Motorola Unveils digeo Broadband Media Center

Motorola Inc. is expanding its digital set-top box product line with a little help from Paul Allen's digeo Inc. and operator Charter Communications Inc. .

Motorola Monday unveiled the BMC8000, a "broadband media center" that will serve as a companion box to its DCT2000 set-top box. The BMC8000 adds features like PVR and telephony to the DCT2000, and will even allow the box to do something that Motorola's high-end set-top box line, the DCT5000, can't: network all the televisions in a home together, thus allowing customers to utilize enhanced television functions on any TV in the home.

"It's essentially acting as a host or server for your entire home," said Motorola spokesperson Jeanne Russo.

Motorola is also developing the BMC9000, a stand-alone version of the box, which it plans to deploy next year.

The BMC8000 was engineered jointly by Motorola, Charter and digeo. The three companies plan to unveil the box at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) in May, and Charter plans to deploy them beginning this fall.

"This new platform builds on the respective strengths of our three companies -- digeo's advanced software technology, Charter's keen consumer insight, and Motorola's innovation and digital cable technology leadership," said Dave Robinson, president of Motorola Broadband.

Russo noted that Charter's involvement in the two-year development process was key, in that it allowed Motorola and digeo to zero in on customer needs and wants.

"The fact that it was developed with an operator will be a selling point," she said.

Carl Vogel, president and chief executive officer for Charter, added, "We're extremely enthusiastic about this platform and believe it is poised to deliver services far more advanced in the cable or satellite industries. digeo and Motorola have taken great care to deliver the first media center solution designed with cable operators and the broadband infrastructure top of mind."

Motorola hopes to offer the BMC8000 to other operators by the end of the year, giving cable companies a new weapon to use against satellite companies during the holiday season battle for consumers.