More Video-On-Demand News from the Cable Kingdom

On April 30, General Instrument Corporation and DIVA Systems Corporation signed a letter of intent defining an agreement to market DIVA's OnSet video-on-demand (VOD) service on GI's DCT-1000 and DCT-1200 interactive digital-cable set-top boxes. This joint effort will enable cable operators who use the GI system to commercially deploy an OpenCable-compliant implementation of the OnSet VOD service by this fall.

The DCT-1000/1200, GI's current generation of digital interactive set-top boxes, offers real-time RF return, MPEG-2 digital video, Dolby Digital audio, and the ability to integrate with embedded GI analog systems. The system is also capable of delivering Internet access, e-mail, and electronic program guides.

According to DIVA, their OnSet service is already developed and deployed in four US cable systems. It provides customers with access to hundreds of recent Hollywood movies, classic "library" titles, and a package of children's and family programming at any time. Additionally, the service offers fast-forward, pause, and rewind functionality. Because OnSet also allows customers to "bookmark" a movie, they can return to it where they left off hours later.

"The capability to deliver true video-on-demand service is certainly one of the most popular of the services to be delivered by GI's interactive digital platform," says David Robinson, senior vice president and general manager of General Instrument's Digital Network Systems.

One of the first customers for this new VOD service will be Lenfest Communications. The service is currently being offered through a DIVA-developed implementation using separate VOD set-top boxes in selected neighborhoods, or "nodes," in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Lenfest's Suburban Cable division offers the service. This joint effort will enable the OnSet service to be streamed from the headend to an end user's DCT-1000/1200 digital set-top box, which will potentially open up VOD service to the more than 25 million homes currently served by GI's interactive digital systems.

Viewers control the OnSet service with an audio and video navigator displayed on the television screen. By working the remote control, they can access previews or select content by title, genre, or lead actor. Movie information screens provide more detailed information and immediate access to a preview of each title. Tutorials on how to use the service and account-management options, such as setting spending limits or parental-control features, are also accessed through the navigator and remote control.