GI, Sony to form home networking alliance

The firms agree to integrate Sony's home entertainment network technology with General Instrument's advanced digital set-top terminals and systems.

General Instrument and Sony today said they plan to integrate Sony's home entertainment network technology with General Instrument's advanced digital set-top terminals and systems.

The two companies agreed to collaborate to enable the use of Sony's Home Networking Module middleware and Aperios real-time operating system as a preferred multimedia delivery system for GI's digital cable set-top terminals.

Specifically, GI will license Sony's Home Networking Module middleware and Aperios operating system for use in DCT-5000 advanced digital set-top terminals that GI will offer to cable operators. Additionally, GI will promote Sony's Home Networking Module as a preferred implementation of a home network architecture using the i.LINK (IEEE 1394) digital interface.

The companies also confirmed that Sony will purchase 7.5 million new shares of GI's common stock at a total price of $187.5 million, pursuant to a joint announcement made earlier this year. The stock purchase is subject to customary closing conditions.

"Sony values GI's role as the leading technology and equipment provider for the cable TV industry, and its experience in digital television," said Gary Myer, copresident of Digital Network Solutions of America, a division of Sony Electronics. "Our strategic alliance will enable additional new service and revenue opportunities for cable operators, while ensuring consumers a smooth transition into the era of digital broadcasting."

In May, Sony and GI jointly demonstrated a prototype DCT-5000 advanced digital set-top terminal equipped with Sony's Aperios real-time operating system and Home Networking Module middleware at the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) Cable '98 convention in Atlanta.

The demonstration illustrated a variety of home network applications, such as high-speed Internet access, smooth video telephony, and an integrated user interface that allows for easy intercontrol of multiple digital AV electronics appliances.

"By marrying the best software technology available for home networking with the extensive capabilities of our DCT-5000 set-top terminal and associated interactive digital broadband cable delivery system, we are able to quickly extend the power of digital systems for the benefit of both network operators and consumers," said Dave Robinson, senior vice president and general manager, Digital Network Systems for General Instrument.

"Incorporating Sony's home networking technologies in our products allows us to offer cable operators a simple way to pass high-definition TV signals to their customers, and provides a powerful platform that opens the door to a whole new world of digital-based interactive services," he added.

Sony's Home Networking Module is middleware that allows digital electronic devices equipped with the i.LINK digital interface to be interconnected and interoperated. The i.LINK interface allows devices to send and receive digital commands and digital AV streams, such as video or audio, at up to 400Mbps.

Aperios is a real-time operating system that Sony developed to support the requirements of digital AV products, such as advanced digital set-top devices. Because it can process continuous streams of audio and video content efficiently and without interruption, Aperios is especially well-suited for real-time applications. By virtue of its modular, object-oriented structure, Aperios is a highly configurable and scalable real-time operating system that can be used in a broad range of digital AV products.

GI's DCT-5000 interactive digital terminal will deliver an unprecedented level of processing and networking capabilities to the home's TV set-top space. The terminal is built around a high-powered 175-MHz RISC processor and high-end 3D and picture-in-graphics capable platform and leverages a built-in DOCSIS-compliant cable modem for high-speed two-way networking capability.

The DCT-5000's triple tuner architecture will enable consumers to simultaneously watch TV and surf the Internet or watch TV and talk on a phone using cable IP telephony.

Copyright 1998, Bloomberg L.P. All Rights Reserved.

Featured Video