GTE Main Street Teams With Videoway to Provide Technology forQuebec's UBI Home Electronic Highway - Represents LargestInternational Sale of the Technology to the Largest Commercial Testof Residential
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STAMFORD, Conn. -- The interactive technology of GTE Main Street has been selected for use in the UBI Home Electronic Highway, a project undertaken by a consortium of six private companies and crown corporations -- The National Bank of Canada, Canada Post Corporation, Hydro-Quebec, the Hearst Corporation, Loto-Quebec and Le Groupe Videotron Lte -- to provide a full range of multimedia and transactional services to 80 percent of the cable-ready homes in Quebec. This agreement, which was announced at a press conference today, in Chicoutimi, Quebec, is the largest international sale of the proprietary technology, for what will be the widest-ever commercial test of residential interactive and multimedia services. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.
GTE Main Street is teaming with Videoway Communications Inc., a subsidiary of Montreal-based Le Groupe Videotron Lte, to provide specific hardware and software components for the network system and home terminal that will deliver UBI. The first phase of the project, which begins in Fall 1996, will deploy this upgraded, two-way cable TV network in 30,000 homes in the cities of Chicoutimi and Jonquiere. The consortium's ultimate goal is to bring UBI to 1.4 million cable households in the greater metropolitan regions of Montreal and Quebec City.
"This agreement is a very strong endorsement, one that reinforces the 'here today' quality of Main Street: that it's a readily adaptable, cost-effective system that makes the wide scale deployment of home interactive services possible from both the financial and technical standpoints," said Tom Grieb, vice president and general manager of GTE Main Street. "UBI is the most significant test of the business model of interactive television and home multimedia services to date, so we're excited about being part of it."
"We looked at numerous options but chose Main Street because it was readily-available and the media server environment effectively complemented our Videoway broadcast mode," said Sylvia Morin, spokesperson for Groupe Videotron.
UBI will be employing Main Street's digital media servers at the head-end of the two-way broadband network to distribute high volume data, sound and video services. Main Street's GEN 3 converter technology will also be incorporated into the home terminal (along with Videoway's set-top components) to deliver enhanced two-way communication and frame-grabber features .
"This experience proves that you can deliver a very compelling degree of interactivity even in today's analog world," said Stan Guif, vice president of technology for GTE Main Street. "Projects like UBI show that we can begin paving the tv-based home interactive highway even without the reality of the digital set-top box."
With UBI, consumers will have access to products and services delivered by more than 150 providers, such as commercial businesses, government agencies and financial and cultural institutions. These include banking and financial services, electronic mail, home automation, distance learning, electronic flyers and catalogues, home shopping and direct marketing, information services and government services. The wide array of the cable distributor's services will also be accessible. Consumers can access these services by using their television, which is hooked up to a terminal and a printer, for copies of mail, transactional receipts, etc. Further hook ups through a magnetic and smart card reader and a PIN pad (such as those used for direct debit transactions) are planned for the future.
The UBI package will be provided free to consumers in the test markets. Revenues will be derived upstream by service providers.
This agreement is the second international sale of the Main Street technology to date. The first took place in 1995. It brought Main Street's head-end technology and set-top converters to cable households in Korea through an agreement with the LG Electronics division of Lucky GoldStar.
GTE Main Street, Incorporated is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., and has offices in Needham, Mass. and Santa Monica, Calif. GTE Main Street's parent company, GTE Corp., is one of the largest publicly-owned telecommunications companies in the world.