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AT&T/Philips Planning Digital Set-Top Boxes For ’01 Retail Market

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. & SUNNYVALE, CALIF. — In a joint announcement, AT&T Broadband and Philips Electronics said they plan to market Philips’ advanced digital cable set-top boxes to U.S. consumers beginning in 2001.

The two companies are forming a new business alliance with the goal of increasing the competitive retail marketplace for advanced digital cable set-top boxes.

In addition, AT&T Broadband expects to purchase set-top boxes directly from Philips. The companies have agreed on an initial minimum volume of 1 million units, with more produced if the services and products sell well, according to a Philips spokesperson. Pricing and retail marketing/merchandising plans have not been set.

The digital set-top boxes Philips will provide to AT&T Broadband will accept an OpenCable-compliant point-of-deployment module, the companies said. This feature enables separable security, a requirement for portability — meaning that consumers will be able to use their set-top box if they move to a new home.

OpenCable is a Cable Television Laboratories initiative aimed at developing a new generation of set-top boxes that can be used with proprietary systems already deployed in the United States, the companies said.

The Philips open set-top platform, which will be deployed in high-bandwidth cable networks, could be the foundation for a residential gateway and a whole new category of in-home accessories, the companies assert.

The platform is seen as the catalyst for developing accessories such as speech-recognition input devices, wireless speakers and display devices, cameras for teleconferencing, and voice and data communications products.

The Philips set-tops will feature the TriMedia programmable media processor, to be integrated with AT&T Broadband’s interactive software platform. The units will also include the Home AudioVideo interoperability (HAVi) specification to provide ease-of-use and applications operability between the Philips set-top box and connected devices.