Cable on demand

9th June 1995 at 01:00
Three major cable companies are joining the race to develop a "video on demand" system, with education intended as one of its services.

In the autumn, Bell Cablemedia, Nynex CableComms and TeleWest Communications will begin a joint research project to use cable's fibre-optic lines to offer their viewers a library of television programmes from which to choose, which can be started and stopped whenever the viewer wants.

Rather than watching what the broadcasters have scheduled, viewers would pay to watch television programmes or feature films, selecting from a huge range of titles which could be called up from a central computer server.

Already British Telecom and Cambridge Cable and Acorn Computers have been testing similar on-line projects, with all competitors hoping to cash in on the introduction of computer-based services, operated through the approachable shop-window of the television screen.

There are similar schemes under research in the United States, and in the Netherlands, Philips is working on a video on demand system based on its CD-i technology.

Along with pay-television and video, the facilities will include home banking, shopping and business information.

For education, the service could mean that an archive of schools television programmes or videos could be made available at the push of a button, or other multimedia material, such as CD-Roms, could be accessed from the classroom.

In the joint cable venture, 2,000 homes will be connected in field tests, in franchises owned by the three participating companies, spread throughout the country.

If the system is proved technically feasible, then the next stage of this challenge to television as we know it will be to decide on the type of programming to offer and the crucial question of price.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today