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TV-based "datacasting" company funded

In an era of venture capital drought, a start-up that hopes to deliver high-speed data using TV stations airwaves has drawn another $10 million.

In an era of funding drought, a start-up that hopes to deliver high-speed data using TV stations airwaves has drawn another $10 million in funds.

iBlast, a company backed by media giants including Gannett, the Washington Post, and Cox Broadcasting, among others, is building a wireless network that piggybacks on the digital transmissions of local television stations.

Like a few competitors, the company hopes to transmit games, videos, music and other big data files directly to subscribers' computers or set-top boxes using digital TV signals. Unlike a conventional Internet connections, the company's technology would not provide ordinary Web browsing--at least not in early versions--but could provide a fast way to get some Net content for people without access to DSL or cable modem networks.

iBlast, which has already mounted trial projects for its network in three cities, said it would use the funding to add to its infrastructure, and for day-to-day operations.

"We are encouraged by the progress that iBlast has made since our initial investment," Daniel Ehrman, vice president of planning and development of Gannett, said in a statement. iBlast "has achieved key milestones over the past several months, and it is with confidence that we reaffirm our commitment to their plan."

The funding is a positive sign for the company, as rivals in the "datacasting" business fall by the wayside. Geocast Network Systems, a well-funded start-up aiming to do much the same thing, has closed its doors.

iBlast has struck deals with 21 broadcast partners that give it access to 93 percent of homes in the United States, it says. Concerns about the standard technology for digital television, and political skirmishing over the digital TV policies, have held up the advance of the technology, however.