New infopike plan debuts

DcT L.P., a new company founded by Gulf & Western Industries co-founder Jim Judelson, plans to unveil technology today that it says will allow cable companies to bring the infopike into homes without having to rewire America.

At a press conference in New York, the company will introduce a technology that can transmit several types of digitized information — from TV signals to computer programs to telephone calls to video on demand — over existing copper wires.

“This has the ability to go through the wires that exist now,” Judelson said. “It’s a means of transmitting information without rewiring America.”

Tough climb ahead

For all the cost savings the technology promises, it still may have an uphill battle. Both phone and cable companies are in the process of spending billions of dollars rewiring their networks with fiber optics to handle much of the work that DcT claims its technology will handle. It may already be too late to get them to rethink their strategies.

Pacific Bell, for example, announced three months ago a $ 16 billion plan to rewire its system to handle interactive multimedia transmissions. The company considered digital compression technology, but passed, in part because it felt consumers would not want converter boxes throughout their houses to decompress signals.

Judelson declined to disclose the amount the system would cost consumers to use, or companies to purchase for installation. He said the firm is “negotiating with a Bell company.”

The 500-channel future that’s captured headlines in recent months is based on the theory that cable companies will be able to multiply their existing 50 channel capacity by 10 times using digital compression.

Multiple signals

DcT’s technology promises to increase capacity by 16 times. But rather than having more than 800 channels, the technology will allow users to transmit multiple signals through the wires. One household could therefore have TVs on different channels, another TV tuned into a video-on-demand selection, computers hooked up to online networks and someone else on a phone call.

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