Remote storage digital video recorder by Cablevision to be out in April

Cablevision Systems Corp said it will roll out its controversial remote storage digital video recorder in April, doing away with the need to buy and install DVR boxes in subscribers’ homes.

The RS-DVR technology enables subscribers to store TV programs on the cable operator’s computer servers and then play them back at will. When plans for the network-based DVR were first announced in 2006, several major program owners sued the cable operator claiming it was illegal.

Cablevision won the case on appeal and last June the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a counter appeal by the film studios and television networks, opening the way for the DVR to be launched.

"By year-end we intend to cease buying physical DVRs as we begin deploying our network-based DVR solution throughout our footprint," Cablevision Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge said Thursday on a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Investors believe such systems could save cable companies significant amounts of money on buying DVR boxes, as well as the cost of sending employees out to install the boxes.

Other cable companies including Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc have said they would launch similar systems over time, once it became clear the RS-DVRs were legal.

Cablevision has made a big drive to provide innovative services to compete with the advanced digital TV and Internet features offered by Verizon Communications Inc in its area.

Earlier in the week, Cablevision announced its plans to trial a PC-to-TV relay technology which would enable a subscriber to watch online videos and family photos on their own personal TV channel.

The company has also launched Wi-Fi Internet access in the local Cablevision area to enable its Internet subscribers to use wireless devices outside of the home. It also plans to install Wi-Fi inside commuter rail cars this year once it gets approval from transit authorities.

Rutledge told analysts the company is testing phones that switch from Wi-Fi to cellular and back as the user moves in and out of a Wi-Fi zone.

"The test is so far proving to be good and consistent with our view of what is possible and gives us some hope that we will be able to launch additional products using the Wi-Fi network that will look like what some people think of as cellular telephone," said Rutledge.


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