November 6, 2000 4:35 PM PST

TV-based high-speed network draws $60 million

A new high-speed service designed to use TV signals to send Internet-style video has drawn $60 million in second-round funding, led by the likes of Disney, Intel and GE Capital.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Dotcast is building a nationwide network that will piggyback on top of Public Broadcast System television signals to distribute video, games and other bandwidth-heavy content to homes.

The model is similar to those being pursued by a coalition of local broadcasters called iBlast and a rival wireless content distributor dubbed Geocast Network Systems.

In all cases, the companies hope to use the airwaves to broadcast one-way blocks of content that would choke even a normal high-speed Internet connection.

The current round of funding brings Dotcast's total take to about $80 million. The company is using the funds to create a network that can reach most households in the United States. It has estimated that it will take about $40 million to create the network.

Dotcast is just one of a growing number of ambitious wireless companies hoping to go beyond current limitations on bandwidth faced by cable, DSL and ordinary fixed wireless Internet services using newer technologies. The efforts have attracted considerable attention from big media companies interested in delivering video and other multimedia to consumers that could compete in quality with television.

Sony, for example, has invested in ArrayComm, a high-speed wireless company developing its own version of a broadband download system, now in trial projects. Many of the big broadcasting companies have invested in either Geocast or iBlast.

Other services could be born as the federal government auctions new pieces of the wireless spectrum over the next few years.


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