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Software sends Web over TV

NCI announces software integrating Intel's Intercast technology, which allows content to be broadcast along the unused portions of TV or cable transmissions.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada--Intel's (INTC) Intercast technology for broadcasting data to computers has surfaced again, this time in software from Network Computer Incorporated (NCI).

Oracle (ORCL) subsidiary NCI today announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that NCI's software will integrate Intel's Intercast technology.

This means that content from Intercast broadcasters such as CNN, NBC, The Weather Channel, Lifetime, and MTV Networks will be received and displayed by devices that use NCI software.

Intercast technology allows content providers to broadcast data, such as Web pages, along the unused portions of TV or cable transmissions, a portion called the Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI). The signals come into a PC, television, set-top box, or other device containing hardware that supports VBI broadcasts as well as related software.

NCI says set-top boxes with TV Navigator and DTV Navigator will be able to offer services such as electronic program guides, news services, and access to Internet content that can be viewed alongside television programming.

Intercast has been slow to take off, mostly because the market is embryonic. There are relatively few users with this capability in their PCs and relatively few TV programs are offered with Intercast content. Moreover, local cable companies often need to be on board to execute the broadcast, which doesn't always happen.

NCI also announced it will work with Intel, content providers, and others to develop an open digital broadcast specification for enhanced TV programming. The specification will define a common set of protocols for the broadcast transmission of multimedia content and services over cable, satellite, and broadcast video systems, both analog and digital.