FCC expected to allow `Dotcasters'

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A Mountain View, Calif.-based company wants to help broadcasters launch a
digital service over today's analog spectrum.

The Federal Communications Commission is reviewing Dotcast Inc.'s proposal,
and the agency is expected to approve it.

Broadcasters will transmit movie trailers, music, games and information --
using subcarrier portions of the vertical-blanking interval -- to viewers with
decoder boxes.

Dotcast wants to take advantage of a 1996 rule allowing broadcasters to add
FCC-certified ancillary transmission services without each station having to
individually petition the commission.

The only other company to get that permission was Microsoft Corp. (for a
never-implemented gaming technology).

Dotcast said its system can transmit at 4.7 million bits per second, well
above the FCC's definition for broadband. Once a broadcaster goes digital,
Dotcast can use a station's multiplexing capability to more than double
datacast-transmission rates.

The vendor said it has raised $100 million and can reach a 200-station,
nationwide footprint through deals with Paxson Communications Corp., ABC and PBS
National Datacast, a for-profit PBS subsidiary.

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