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NorthPoint makes content play

Video technology company ClearBand teams with high-speed Net access provider NorthPoint Communications to bring television programming to the desktop.

Video technology company ClearBand has teamed with NorthPoint Communications, a high-speed Internet access provider, bringing television programming to the desktop.

The strategic partnership, announced yesterday, will allow consumers to watch favorite oldies such as "I Love Lucy" and pro-football games over high-speed, or broadband, networks, company executives said.

Digital subscriber line (DSL) technology providers are "realizing that content is critical," said ClearBand's chief operating officer Joe Hawayek. "Providing access isn't enough. You have to have compelling applications, and the killer (applications) are audio and video."

Hawayek said he expects the partnership to be the "catalyst that will validate the broadband space."

Upstart communications companies, like San Francisco-based NorthPoint that provides high-speed Internet access over traditional telephone wires, are turning to Web content providers to give them an edge in the competitive field.

Communications firms, including Covad Communications and Rhythms NetConnections, are also looking for alternate ways to draw in revenue as broadband access profits are expected to fall.

NorthPoint today also signed deals with Call-Net, creating its first international joint venture to deliver broadband services in Canada, and Into Networks to deliver on-demand software downloads. NorthPoint also expanded its DSL resale agreement with ISP partner Zyan Communications.

The strategic partnership with Silicon Valley-based ClearBand comes on the heels of NorthPoint's new service called Blast that they say will increase the speed and quality of video transmissions, or streaming media, over the Internet.

Blast combined with ClearBand's broadband video technology will allow consumers to view "television quality broadcasts," ClearBand officials said.

ClearBand, a privately held company, has content partnerships with AtomFilms, CinemaNow, Vidnet, The Football Network, CelebNewsLive and Extreme Interactive, all of which will be available through NorthPoint DSL.

"During the 1980s and 1990s, cable dramatically changed the television landscape by giving consumers more choice and control over the viewing experience and by giving broadcasters and advertisers a medium for reaching niche audiences," NorthPoint chief executive Michael Malaga said in a statement. "Interactive broadband content is the next logical evolutionary step."'s Corey Grice contributed to this report.