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August 26, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Shares in Internet access providers shivered on Friday at the news that British Sky Broadcasting Plc and Bertelsmann AG are to offer fast Internet access to subscribers to their satellite-delivered digital television services in the UK and Germany. British Sky Broadcasting Plc reckons that only about 15% of UK homes have personal computers, so it is ordering up a television set-top box decoder with the power of a personal computer – and will have to subsidize it heavily. No word on the processor – or even whether a specific processor has been chosen, but according to Electronic Times, specifications sent to those tendering to build the boxes include integration of a 100Mbps IEEE1394 serial bus interface and a fast modem link. The interface will support everything from home audio systems to printers, and will provide a fast link to personal computers. BSkyB also plans to offer home banking, home shopping and other interactive services. The satellite broadcaster is also demanding advanced MPEG functions such as handling mosaics of eight windows on-screen, so that you can follow up to eight individual cars in a Grand Prix – while people actually at the event can’t see anything through all the cameras. And in Germany, Bertelsmann AG says that its Media box digital television decoder will also support Internet access. The Mediabox was developed jointly by Bertelsmann and Canal Plus SA, in competition with German mogul Leo Kirch’s D-Box.

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