Cable & Wireless will use NCI's DTV Navigator platform for as many as 5 million set-top boxes in the United Kingdom, with Hong Kong and Australia slated for a later rollout of the technology. NCI's technology allows the set-top box to access applications such as electronic program guides and Web content that are stored on a server computer located at the cable company's main office.
Later in 1998, Cable & Wireless will begin upgrading current analog set-top boxes in the United Kingdom to newer digital set-top boxes with the DTV Navigator technology. While the devices are not as advanced as the systems being proposed in the United States by cable companies such as TCI or Time Warner, the devices will still allow most of the interactive services that U.S. companies have planned. Additionally, Cable & Wireless' network is already able to provide video on demand, something which many U.S. cable company networks cannot do.
NCI's announcement follows a similar December 1997 deal with Scientific-Atlanta (SA) for use of the DTV Navigator technology in the Explorer 2000 digital set-top boxes being deployed by Time Warner in select U.S. markets.
The agreement with Cable & Wireless represents a significant move by NCI into foreign markets and may help NCI gain credibility and momentum in the United States, where a number of cable companies have yet to choose software technology for planned interactive services. NCI is facing competition from companies such as Microsoft, which is advocating its Windows CE operating system as the software of choice for digital set-top boxes.