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Dotcast to Use T.V. Spectrum to Bypass Broadband Networks

Dotcast Inc. (www.dotcast.com), a Silicon Valley-based company that has created technology to take advantage of the unused TV spectrum of broadcasters to create an additional distribution channel for digital content, announced new investments by the Walt Disney Company, GE Equity, Quantum Corp and Worldview Technology partners. Additionally, Intel Capital and Angel Investors returned for Dotcast's third round of funding, valued at $60 million.

Dotcast is in the process of constructing the Dotcast Digital Network, which they say is based on proprietary technology that enables the insertion of 4.5 Mb/s of data into an existing analog television signal or 10Mb/s of data into a digital television signal without impairing the normal programming signal.

This technology works with the North American NTSC and European PAL formats, Dotcast struck an agreement with the ever-enterprising PBS National Datacasting in March of this year to use their broadcast infrastructure, and is actively seeking additional broadcast partners. Each broadcast facility will also need to be equipped with the Dotcaster Edge Server.

Dotcast believes that its one-to-many distribution infrastructure will provide rich media content owners with advantages they can't receive through the one-to-one distribution infrastructure of the Internet and broadband.

Dotcast also intends to charge lower prices for content distribution, as the entire Dotcast network is estimated to cost $40 million to build. Whereas the company quotes estimate that building the DSL infrastructure for a medium-sized U.S. city will be $40 million.

Dotcast states that while most of their content will be for download, a certain amount of spectrum will be reserved for streaming audio and video.

An integral part of the Dotcast system, however, is the DotBox receiver device, which will need to be in every home that intends to use the Dotcast network and initially will be connected to a PC. The company plans to create a version capable of being connected to the television in the future. The DotBox will receive content based on pre-programmed preferences, and will include a 100-gigabyte hard drive. No content partnerships have been announced to date, but Disney is an investor.

While the DotBox can receive data downstream at rates 100x faster then most DSL connections (4.5Mb/s as compared to 300kp/s), it will only allow you to send information back to the Internet through your normal connection -- which may very well be dial-up. This feature could hinder the e-commerce capabilities that Dotcast is hoping to roll-out.

Dotcast projects that commercial rollout of its network will occur in late 2001, following market and technical trials earlier in the year.

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