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March 1, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

Network Computer Inc (NCI), which claims to have negotiated with every network service provider in the US has signed another one of them, US West to include NCI’s client and server software on set-top boxes to provide enhanced telephony and internet services integrated with television. The service, called @TV, which will start trials in select cities in the Spring, includes the ability to use the set-top box combined with a speaker phone to make and receive telephone calls and access content on the internet. It will work over regular 56Kbps dial-up access or faster DSL digital connections and US West emphasizes that this is not a cable service. It is up to US West to provide the content based on the NCI software, and it will include programming guides, email , news and commerce. Although US West was using an Acer Corp set-top to demonstrate the service, it has not decided which manufacturer’s set-top box it is eventually going to use, but NCI points out that its software runs on about four different chipsets and has been ported to numerous set-tops. US West says it will eventually be used for video on demand, but it wouldn’t put a time-scale on that part, no doubt aware that VOD has been promised numerous times before, only to fail. The initial cities are likely to be Denver, Phoenix and Minneapolis with full roll out across its 14- state territory by the year-end. It has not set pricing yet, but it will be a monthly fee.

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