WorldGate's Deal with Blue Ridge Nets New Customers

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Interactive television company WorldGate Communications recently signed a deal with Pennsylvania cable operator Blue Ridge Communications to implement and market the WorldGate service to its customers.

WorldGate offers an I-TV service that is based primarily on receiving Internet content during programming and ads as well as basic PC capabilities like e-mail.

Blue Ridge serves more than 115,000 customers in Pennsylvania. The company estimated that as it builds its network, it will reach about 50,000 new homes in the next 12 to 18 months.

"The idea is to provide interactivity and Internet connectivity to every household that Blue Ridge serves," said Peter Mondics, vice president at WorldGate Communications. "The idea is to start creating the idea of Internet connectivity as a basic cable service. If you subscribe to digital cable, you will get this with your basic service. It is now treating Internet connectivity as a basic service, meaning it will be bundled with other services just like premium channels are."

The strategy, however, does not limit the service to being available only as an upgrade, Mondics said.

"Blue Ridge is providing a level of service that allows consumers to subscribe to Web access as an optional service, but more importantly, with every digital set-top box installed comes a certain amount of interactivity with local content and some Web-based content," Mondics said.

Blue Ridge will begin marketing the WorldGate service to customers to coincide with the deployment of the digital set-tops in August.

WorldGate serves approximately 45,000 customers worldwide, a number that could rise to 3 million homes within a year when the service is bundled and made available with the Microsoft TV Platform on the Motorola DCT 5000 advanced digital set-top box.

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