Time Warner Cable is taking shipments of the 500 Series digital cable set-top boxes from Pace Micro Technology, marking Pace's first cable set-tops shipped to the United States.

TWC won't put a dollar figure on the deal, but the original order was for at least 750,000 of the boxes.

The company will be receiving them and sending them to the field "very quickly," although the exact markets haven't been released, says TWC spokesman Mike Luftman.

A Pace spokeswoman also would not disclose financial terms, but says the shipments started in September. The boxes have been in field trials since early this year, she says.

The three-year deal, originally announced in November 1999, entails an order for a high-specification digital interactive set top, built to TWC's Pegasus box specification, Pace said at the time. The specs were to include an integrated DAVIC cable modem for interactive services.

The 500 Series is a line of digital interactive cable boxes that use single-chip architecture, Pace says. The boxes are Energy Star-qualified, meaning they are designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy as meeting energy efficiency guidelines.

In June 2000, Pace announced a similar deal with Comcast Cable Communications Inc. That three-year deal entailed an order for 350,000 digital set-top boxes for Comcast's Motorola- and Scientific-Atlanta-based networks.

The Comcast contract calls for a minimum 300,000 high-specification digital interactive set-tops, incorporating DigiCipher II conditional access, an integrated DOCSIS cable modem and the option of a hard disk drive, Pace said then.

The box was to also support Liberate and Microsoft TV for interactive services, with more than 300 MIPs processing power, and it was to have the option of carrying HDTV.

The rest of the order was for Pace's single-chip Pegasus-compliant Di5101 digital set tops box to work on Comcast's S-A-based networks.

Pace's spokeswoman would not disclose financial terms of the Comcast deal, but said the boxes are still in development and haven't been delivered yet.

Separately, Pace also announced its IP500 IPTV digital set-top box for broadband IP network operators. The box is more advanced than the DSL4000 IP-based box, which has been deployed and trialed worldwide, Pace says. That box will continue to be available, as well.

The IP500 will support new streaming protocols for limited bandwidth of RBOCs in delivering multichannel video service, Pace says. The design is intended to support all broadcasters using IP-based iTV distribution, regardless of medium.

Pace says the box will be available in the first quarter of next year.