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Loud and clear: CEO hopes to find international audience for multimedia services.

You might want to start looking for that soft spot on your couch, because the way Ken Lipscomb sees it, there isn't a better time than this fall to unveil the lineup of programs on his virtual broadcasting network. Lipscomb's company, DAVE Networks, will feature more than 100 Web channels of music, movies, sports, and video content that users can stream from their PCs to their home television and stereo systems.

"In a world where the [connection] pipes were small, the actual movement of video and rich media format was very time consuming and not realistic," explains the 45-year-old Alabama native. But with broadband's increased speed and ability to deliver high-quality multimedia content via the Web, Lipscomb seized the opportunity to create his network.

Compared With traditional broadcasting companies, DAVE Networks, an acronym for distributed audio/video entertainment, is aiming to be as unique with its content as individual PC users. "Right now you can get television through rabbit ears, cable, or satellite companies, [but] for the first time, we have the ability to build a broadcasting network on top of a broadband infrastructure," says Lipscomb.

Lipscomb started DAVE Networks, an Atlanta-based outfit, in October 2002. "I thought we needed to have a back-end portal that could aggregate content [to] work with appliances and PCs, and, ultimately, deliver media to consumers [from] portal points all over the world," he says. By partnering with broadcasting hubs worldwide, the network is promising to deliver global media content to local markets.

Besides offering in-house multimedia Webcasting production and post-production services to corporate and private individuals, DAVE Networks is designed to allow consumers to download and play digital media content on a pay-per-play/pay-per-view basis. While Lipscomb hasn't finalized the pricing structure, songs will be available for roughly 99 cents and movies will start at $1.99. In addition, following the examples of Comcast and DIRECTV, the basic advertiser sponsored content on DAVE will be free. With a soft-test product launch that started in June, the company is projecting $12 million in revenues over the next 12 months.

To get DAVE Networks up and running, the former Xavier University medical student turned businessman raised nearly $2 million from friends and angel investors. "Creating this business, raising the money this way. was a hand-to-mouth effort. I wouldn't normally do it this way, but since the dot-corn bubble burst, sometimes you have to," says Lipscomb, who notes that the capital-raising process was "the most difficult thing I had to do in my life."

A large chunk of the initial funding went toward developing software applications and the Xport, a digital media receiver hardware component based on the Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series. The design enables the Xport to interface with the PC's Windows environment. The Xport, which the network is planning to introduce to the marketplace this month, will be available in two models priced at $99 and $199. The lower priced model will work with your PC, while the higher priced model can work on its own with your TV like a VCR. Both models can deliver full motion audio and video. With the Xport "you're not restricted to your PC," says Lipscomb. "It can pull content tram the media center or from the network. When you download content with us, that content can be played on your TV and through the stereo."

The network's broadband infrastructure gives Lipscomb plenty of room to create channels that traditional broadcasters couldn't dream of developing, such as a gospel channel or a channel for Americans living in, say, Korea, "You couldn't deploy that [content] economically in a cable environment," notes Lipscomb. "Peer-to-peer technology allows [us] to pull content from various nodes within tire network, so as the network provider, my cost in bandwidth is zero."

The network's official launch is slated for this month, which is about the time that you should start brushing up on your remote control etiquette.
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Title Annotation:Black Digerati; DAVE Networks
Author:Calypso, Anthony
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1U5GA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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