Sunflower preps for Q1 launch of Pace’s HCS platform

Mon, 12/07/2009 - 7:30am
Mike Robuck

Starting in the first quarter, Sunflower Broadband will offer all of its subscribers a whole-home DVR platform from Pace Americas.

Lawrence, Kan.-based Sunflower, along with Mediacom Communications and Buckeye Cablevision, previously conducted a field trial of Pace’s Home Content Sharing (HCS) solution that allows viewers to send video content to multiple rooms in a home.

Pace’s whole-home DVR offering uses a single network attached storage (NAS) gateway for storage on the “thin-client” set-top boxes located in other rooms of a home. The recorded content is shared by the NAS with the other boxes via coaxial cable, Ethernet or MoCA 1.1.

Full trick play functionality is available on all of the connected TV sets, thanks to Rovi’s interactive program guide, which, for example, lets a viewer bookmark a recording in one room and resume watching it in another.

The Pace platform allows each TV to record up to two HD recordings simultaneously, while also allowing viewers to watch an HD show, for a total of nine HD streams over the NAS on three TVs.

“The response has been very good,” said Sunflower Broadband general manager Rod Kutemeier. “A real interesting thing about HCS from the comments I’ve gotten is, ‘I don’t know that I need it right now, but it sounds really cool, and I’m glad that you guys have it.’ Maybe they don’t have to buy it yet, but knowing we have it puts us in a unique position in this market to keep and retain customers.”

Kutemeier said Sunflower’s multi-room DVR service is a strong competitor to similar offerings by AT&T, through its U-verse service, Dish Network and DirecTV.

As for the cost, Kutemeier said nothing has been set in stone just yet, but Sunflower wants to keep the cost roughly the same as what it currently charges for Pace’s Apache HD set-top box, which is $9.95 per month. Sunflower is currently supplying a MoCA dongle for no charge to the early adopters, while the NAS gateway costs $4.95 per month.

“The possible pricing in the first quarter could come with a bundle,” Kutemeier said. “With our current pricing, including a two- or three- or four-room solution, we match up real well with what AT&T is doing with U-verse for their Total Home DVR solution. We may do something similar where it’s part of a bundle or there’s a requirement for two services. We haven’t decided yet.”

Future iterations of the Pace HCS platform could include MoCA integrated into the set-top boxes for easier installation.

More Broadband Direct 12/07/09:
•  Blog: The NCTA’s FCC bid to kill CableCards
•  Sunflower preps for Q1 launch of Pace's HCS platform
•  NCTA asks FCC to jumpstart retail STB market
•  Cox top op for women in cable
•  Comcast: No plans to sell 4th-place NBC network
•  Sprint closes $426M deal for iPCS
•  Cisco has enough shares to close Tandberg deal
•  Broadband Briefs for 12/07/09



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