British Telecom has stolen a march on its cable rivals by launching a range of interactive services offering users video-on-demand, home banking and high-speed Internet access.
BT has teamed up with around 20 partners, including Midland Bank, Virgin Net and Video Networks, to provide film, TV and music which can be screened on either a TV or a computer. The service, which goes on trial in 2,000 homes in West London this week, is expected to go nationwide early next year.
Video Networks will supply the films and TV programmes, which users will be able to receive down the phone wire on-demand and pause or fast-forward as they do with traditional videos.
The potential investment of BT has been estimated at up to £500 million over the next few years. Cable rivals such as Cable & Wireless won't be offering interactive services until the tail end of next year.
BT originally trialled the service in Colchester and Ipswich three years ago, but it was felt that the costs involved were prohibitive. Newer technology, however, has brought down the price.