Internet set-top box software and reference design company Diba Inc has announced 11 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that have signed up to its ISP certification program. It ensures that devices built to the Diba specifications and using the Diba software will be able to link to the ISP’s service. Diba believes the WebTV Networks Inc model is wrong, because it restricts users to just one ISP: WebTV, now part of Microsoft Corp. The company envisages this announcement of the first ISPs to sign as a precursor to some of them offering machines built to the Diba spec and using its software at discounted rates or even given away free, mirroring the cellular telephone model. Diba reckons a few of the ISPs are putting the final touches to just such announcements and can be expected to reveal their plans some time this quarter. Diba is talking to Netcom, but that company is moving towards a business, rather than consumer-oriented model, so it’s less clear where set-top boxes and the like would fit in. Diba is also targeting all non-Microsoft owned online service providers, including America Online Inc. Bundling a cut-rate or even free machine with AOL’s service, in return for some sort of guarantee from the user that they would stay with AOL for a bit a longer than they do currently, would be a great way of improving AOL’s poor churn rate, Diba reckons. On the manufacturing front, Diba will announce two more partners by the month end, both of them outside the US, probably from the Far East. The last manufacturer the company announced was Taiwan’s Sampo Group last month, which will have Diba-compliant set-top boxes in the US market this summer. The 11 ISPs are AT&T WorldNet, Bell Atlantic Internet Solutions, Best Internet Communications Inc, Concentric Network Corp, Earthlink Network Inc, GTE, IBM Global Services, Metricom, Pacific Bell Internet Services, PSINet Inc, and Southwestern Bell Internet Services Inc. Epoch Network Inc and MCI Corp were on the verge of joining the announcement apparently, but wanted a few more days before they officially come out in support.