Cablevision Systems has scheduled a technical trial of service that will allow subscribers to transfer anything they have on their PCs, including stored files and streamed content, and shift it to their TVs through the network.

The test is set for June. At a subscriber’s request, Cablevision is going to draw content from that subscriber’s PC to its own headend, then transmit it back to the subscriber on a dedicated video channel.

At least for now, Cablevision is calling the service by the doggedly descriptive name of “PC to TV Media Relay.”

Details are scarce, so it’s not entirely clear how Cablevision intends to accomplish the trick. It could be some combination of SDV, on-demand technologies, unicast broadcasting and DOCSIS 3.0 on the upstream – but the company refuses to elaborate.

Whatever equipment Cablevision uses to implement the capability, the approach is profoundly circuitous, in both the figurative and literal senses. It has the potential to consume a great deal of upstream bandwidth, but it also has several major virtues.

With PC to TV Media Relay, Cablevision answers the biggest home networking question that its customers have – how to get stuff reliably from the PC to the TV – without adding any new equipment or technology in its subscribers’ homes.

Secondly, because the signals never leave the confines of Cablevision’s own network, it retains control of audiovisual quality, which no MSO can yet do very effectively via any other home networking means.

Also, whether or not over-the-top becomes far more popular than it is, the approach maintains the value for subscribers of maintaining both data and video service.

Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge said: “With our PC to TV Media Relay service, we are putting an end to the need for families to huddle around their laptops or PCs to watch content together. This new service will make it easy for our television customers to take broadband services – including Internet video, as well as family photos or anything else displayed on a computer screen – and move it to the television with the click of the mouse.”

Specific examples of the kind of content that consumers currently view on their PC, and that will now be viewable on the television, include:

  • Personal stored media such as photos, home videos and music
  • Internet content, including streaming video sites and audio such as Internet radio
  • Some productivity applications, including e-mail, documents and spreadsheets
  • Other desktop applications such as widgets

Cablevision alluded to another potential advantage to the approach. It said the technology that enables PC to TV Media Relay may also be extended to other consumer devices in the home, including handheld devices running applications and connected to in-home wireless networks.

PC to TV Media Relay for Mac is also in development. The company did not elaborate.

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