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Rok raises another $7m

Prepares for narrowcast IPO

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While network operators are evaluating technologies for broadcasting TV, Rok Entertainment is betting on narrowcast as the future and has just raised $7m with a view to an IPO later this year.

Broadcast technologies have been getting all the attention lately, but Rok argues that at home customers are getting used to watching what they want when they want it, so to force them to follow schedules when on the move is a step backwards - a step customers won't be willing to take.

The European investment companies who just paid $7m for 10 per cent of Rok agree, and with Rok talking about rolling out its on-demand video service to 30 operators in the next 12 months that could be a shrewd investment. Rok has spent around $30m in the last three years building up expertise and recruiting staff around the world, as well as developing its video-over-2.5G technology.

It also runs a free video service, Freebe.tv, where punters can watch the news rendered on a semi-naked bimbo through the magic of speech-synthesis, and martial-arts so badly dubbed it makes Monkey look good. But it is worth taking a look if only to see what's possible using the Rok technology without a 3G connection.

Broadcast technologies such as DVB-H and DMB are only useful if lots of people want to watch the same thing at the same time - such as breaking news or live sports events - the rest of the time narrowcasting makes more sense. It remains to be seen if enough people want simultaneous viewing to make broadcast worthwhile. Otherwise, Rok might be well placed to deliver video to those who want it. ®

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