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Technology / AI and automation


Zug, Switzerland-based media and broadcasting software company the Fantastic Corp is beginning to look like a key player in multimedia broadcasting, following Intel Corp’s decision to invest in, and collaborate with the company (CI No 3,315). Intel would not disclose how much money it was putting into Fantastic, which was only formed back in February 1996, but said it was working with the company on the technology behind the delivery of media-rich content to personal computers, transmitted over broadband satellite, cable, digital terrestrial and digital subscriber line networks. Fantastic has developed software it calls the Channel Management Center, which compiles, edits and compresses data for network operators before it is sent on air to subscribers. It also has the Channel Editorial Center product for content aggregation, packaging and branding. Content from the web can be transmitted either by analog television’s vertical blanking interval or via the Digital Video Broadcasting standard. And there is a broadcast-enabled browser – the Fantastic MediaSurfer for client devices – which works on top of standard browsers. Fantastic first came to public attention earlier this year, when Deutsche Telekom AG signed up to use its technology to provide broadcast media services over its network (CI No 3,242). But the company also has a deal in place with European Satellite Multimedia Services SA, the joint venture between Intel and Luxembourg-based Societe Europeenne des Satellites, set up last March to deliver multimedia content to European PCs via the Astra satellite network (CI No 3,119). Deutsche Telekom and Hughes Network Systems Inc also have financial interests in the venture (CI No 3,137). And Fantastic has an agreement in place with Commerce One Inc, the electronic commerce company formed by Sybase Inc co-founder Mark Hoffman, a personal investor in the company. European Technology and Finance Investments NV, the Dutch investment company which rescued Dynasty Technologies Inc last year, is another major investor. Describing itself as Swiss American, Fantastic has a second Swiss office in Lugano, and other bases in London, New York and Singapore, with a total of 100 staff. It’s run by chief executive officer Peter Ohnemus, former director of central Europe for Sybase.

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