Telewest reaches for the wide blue yonder

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Telewest Communications has launched two sets of services that give it a clear lead in broadband interactive services delivered via PCs and television.

Blueyonder is the UK’s first high-speed cable internet service. It offers unlimited 24 hour a day usage and speeds up to 15 times faster than conventional internet, with a richer content.

Telewest Active Digital has signed up more than 60 high street and on-line content partners, providing access to 70 leading brands.  The interactive service includes e-mail free of charge to all digital customers via their TV screen.

Tony Illsley, chief executive of Telewest, said: “These services represent the real dawning of the broadband interactive age, and they are being rolled out to our customers now.”

Earlier this year, Telewest launched SurfUnlimited, the first UK service offering unlimited usage for £10 a month.

Illsley said: “Telewest has invested almost £4 billion to create the UK’s most extensive cable network and one of the world’s best broadband digital platforms. That gives us the ability to do things others simply cannot.”

Blueyonder claims to offer greater speed, wider content and greater interactivity than rival home internet services, as well as unmetered usage.  By summer, alongside the launch of a branded broadband portal, it will introduce true broadband applications including: live video – film, sports, news; live traffic reports; live stock price ticker scrolls; an e-mail window displaying new e-mail as it arrives; multi-media graphics and dynamic web content; video brochures; ambient music, music videos and ‘instant’ download of music CDs and books; on-line betting; video advertising and information services.

According to Illsley: “Blueyonder today is what a lot of us thought the internet would be until we tried it. Progressively, it will deliver broadband interactive services from personal and property security, to on-line medical diagnosis and treatment, to entertainment, culture and information of virtually limitless nature – all interactively and with extraordinary graphic and dynamic quality.

“Despite what one reads, most of the broadband applications people talk about actually don’t yet exist – or if they do, not on a large scale, reliable basis. We aim to change that.”

In parallel, Telewest Active Digital introduces digital interactive services via TV. TV e-mail, home banking and shopping and interactive entertainment and a review guide are all included, but are simpler to use than satellite, digital terrestrial or other cable operator services. The company intends to sign up 100 content partners by the end of the year.

Telewest recently launched two new e-commerce services, Endeavour and Biz Explore, launched for business customers; a joint venture with Andersen Consulting was announced in March, and a proposed merger with Flextech was announced in December 1999.

Telewest’s broadband cable networks now pass more than 4.7 million homes, with more than 1.6 million households choosing Telewest for their multi-channel television, telephone and internet services. The company’s voice and data telecommunications links are used by over 58,000 companies.

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