Comcast Cable Communications Inc. has ordered 300,000 digital set-top boxes from Scientific-Atlanta Inc.
The initial order is for 50,000 Explorer 2000 boxes, with the rest to follow over a three-year period.
Comcast also intends to purchase set-top boxes from Pioneer Electronic Corp. and Toshiba Corp., licensing partners with Scientific-Atlanta.
Financial terms of the deal were not released.
The boxes will include the PowerTV operating system, which allows Web browsing, and the PowerKey access system, which uses public and private key encryption for network security.
Comcast officials said they plan to deploy the units and offer interactive cable services by early 1998. The Philadelphia-based cable company currently offers services to 4.2 million customers in 19 states, with concentrations in Philadelphia, Detroit, New Jersey, Florida and Southern California.
"We're assuming widespread deployment in 1998," said Joe Waz, vice president for external affairs for the company. "SA is providing a head end and user end that look very attractive to offer the full panoply of service we want to offer."
Comcast expects to complete fiber upgrade to all major service clusters in which it operates by the end of the year, Waz said.