Calling all TV sets

Bertelsmann to test broadband network

BERLIN — The Bertelsmann cable technology subsidiary Bertelsmann Broadband Group has announced a joint venture with the U.K.’s Video Networks to develop TV access over telephone lines. Pilot projects around the country are starting early next year.

Using asymmetric digital subscriber lines technology, and a set-top box adapter for the TV, transmission capacity can be increased a hundredfold, according to the company.

“With the combination of broadband video and Internet content, hundreds of new services will be available in the living room and on TV,” broadband group chief Werner Lauff said.

According to Margit Lehmann, a spokeswoman for the Bertelsmann subsidiary, the as-yet-unnamed media service will offer specialty and interactive channels plus e-commerce services, many of which are still in the planning stage. “A subscriber can, for example, select exactly which videos he or she wants to see and thus develop their own music programming,” she said.

Lehmann does not see the service in direct competition with pay TV, stating, “I’d say it’s more of a supplementary service. It’s more interactive.”

Before the service can be offered to everyone, however, the country’s regional cable networks need to be upgraded. Most of the cities in the former East Germany are already far ahead of their western counterparts and are equipped with broadband cable. The entire region has been enjoying a complete infrastructural makeover since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The Hamburg-based broadband group, which was established earlier this year, is made up of cable tech specialists, hardware manufactures and content providers.

Video Networks is a provider of broadband interactive TV, including video-on-demand.

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