BROADWING WILL TEST DEVICE THAT USES PHONE LINES TO DELIVER PROGRAMS TO TV
By Anna Wilde Mathews
Staff Reporter of THE WALL
Entering an increasingly competitive race to provide on-demand home
entertainment, Broadwing Inc. said it will test a
new device that delivers movies and other programming to television sets
via high-speed telephone lines.
The service will be provided by Intertainer Inc.
(www.intertainer.com) of Culver City, Calif., which supplies an array of films, music
videos, television shows and other content via cable or
digital-subscriber-line connections. Broadwing, a Cincinnati
telecommunications firm, will begin a small technical trial of the set-top
box around Thanksgiving, and launch a broader test early next year.
The new Broadwing service becomes the latest entry in the increasingly
crowded race to deliver various forms of entertainment on demand to a new
generation of appliances expected to merge television, videocassette
recorders and computers. Enron Corp. and Blockbuster Inc. have announced
plans to deliver movies via high-speed telephone lines. Cable providers are
making moves to enter the market, while entertainment companies could
eventually also jump into the fray and serve up their own products directly
"What you want is the depth of a video store in your home," said
Jonathan Taplin, president and chief executive of Intertainer.
Broadwing said it hopes to start offering the device to its high-speed
Internet subscribers in late spring. The company currently has about 37,000
DSL customers. Nationwide, telecommunications companies are battling cable
operators to provide broadband Internet access. "We think this is another
tool that gives us the opportunity to highlight the value of our platform,"
said Mike O'Brien, president of ZoomTown.com, Broadwing's broadband
So far, details of pricing have yet to be finalized, he said, but
customers won't have to pay for a second DSL connection. The new generation
of video-on-demand services, like Intertainer, allow consumers to
fast-forward, rewind and pause movies. The programming will be streamed
using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media
player and copyright-protection technology.
Broadwing will offer a VCR-sized box made by Dallas-based uniView Technologies Corp. It will
also come with a keyboard, so customers can use e-mail or surf the Web on
their televisions. The company has already been involved in a trial with
the Intertainer service delivered to computers.