BCL, Ihug working on wireless both ways

TVNZ subsidiary BCL and the Internet Group (Ihug) are both trialling wireless technology that provides Internet users with a high-bandwidth wireless return path - no Telecom required. 'We will remove your reliance on Telecom,' BCL's Peter Smales promised at an industry briefing on the company's plans last week. Ihug's technology will form part of a 'local loop' IP telephony product.

TVNZ subsidiary BCL and the Internet Group (Ihug) are both trialling wireless technology that provides Internet users with a high-bandwidth wireless return path - no Telecom required.

"We will remove your reliance on Telecom," BCL's Peter Smales promised at an industry briefing on the company's plans last week.

Smales said a "small horn" mounted on a customer's roof will provide a high-bandwidth upstream path a 2Mbit/s wireless return path for digital TV and high-speed Internet services.

BCL, Ihug, which is preparing to add digital TV to its high-speed StarNet offerings, and Sky TV, now gearing up for pay-per-view and Internet via its new digital services, all currently depend on a Telecom line for a return path for their wireless microwave services.

Ihug director Nick Wood says his company is developing a similar enhancement to its StarNet service, which will next year form the basis of a "full local loop" IP telephony offering. Ihug recently confirmed it was to sign an interconnection agreement with Telecom.

In his presentation, Smales extended an invitation to broadcasters, ISPs and others to join BCL's digital terrestrial television trials, which have been running from a transmitter in Auckland's Waitakere ranges, and will be extended to Wellington early next year.

Smales said BCL expected to release a consumer set-top box to go with its services by mid-1999.

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