HONOLULU -- GTE Media Ventures today introduced its new advanced digital wireless video service, "GTE Americast," that will compete against cable TV companies to give Oahu residents a choice in home entertainment service. GTE officials said its new service gives subscribers access to over 150 channels of video and music programming, and claimed its use of digital technology provides superior picture and sound quality.
GTE has been constructing its new digital system over the past year, creating more than 85 jobs in the process.
"It has been an incredible year of growth and development for GTE Media Ventures, and we have worked very hard to bring Oahu the very latest technology, network reliability, an exciting program lineup and user-friendly controls," said General Manager Alain Louchez. "We are setting a new standard of home entertainment in Hawaii.
"For the first time, Oahu residents have a meaningful choice in video services providers," Louchez continued. "We do not intend to start a pricing war, but we will compete on the basis of value and service quality."
GTE's core program lineup includes 68 video channels and Music Choice -- 32 channels of commercial-free music in a wide spectrum of styles. There are also more than 40 channels of pay-per-view programming, 35 of them constituting Express Cinema service offering viewers a wide selection of recently-released movies that can be received in surround sound.
Rick Wilson, president of GTE Media Ventures (based in Irving, Texas), said Hawaii was only the third state where they have introduced video services. "The introduction of high quality digital video service to Oahu is part of GTE's overall business strategy to successfully compete in the cable TV business in more than 60 markets across the nation in the next five to seven years," Wilson said.
"The fact that Hawaii is one of the first three markets we have entered indicates how highly we, at GTE, value the opportunity to conduct business in Hawaii."
Wilson said the first GTE Americast customer on Oahu was installed this morning.
"It was just a year ago that GTE purchased the assets of the Oahu Wireless Cable company," Wilson said. "At that time, we said we would improve and expand the system to cover all of Oahu by early 1998. Today, we have made good on that promise."
The development of GTE Americast service has also brought new jobs to the state. "To build this service, GTE Media Ventures has initially hired over 85 new team members including installers, technicians, dispatchers, customer service representatives and clerks -- most of whom are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1357. With the anticipated growth of customers, we expect to continue to expand our employee base," Wilson said.
"GTE has invested here for many years to assure that quality and capability of the telecommunications infrastructure that is so important to Hawaii's ability to maintain its business climate and attract other industries," Wilson said. "As President of GTE Media Ventures, I'm delighted to join in that endeavor."
Wilson said his company has "experienced substantial customer growth competing against two of the biggest cable companies in the business," referring to Time-Warner in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and TCI in Ventura County, Calif., north of Los Angeles.