Ondigital customers will soon be able to send and receive email via their TV sets, through a partnership between the digital TV operator and Scottish Telecom's ISP Demon Internet.
The deal, announced today, will help Ondigital in its battle with BSkyB and Britain's cable operators to win digital TV subscribers.
Subscribers will be able to access email through a set-top box or integrated digital television (idTV) while they watch television. Subscribers will get a remote control keyboard to let them write email and interact with other services, such as pay-per-view and ecommerce services.
Scottish Telecom will provide Ondigital with network access servers, together with mail servers and ISP account management systems.
Ondigital's digital TV service is available now, but the company has not yet set a date or pricing structure for its email via the TV service.
According to Demon's technical director, Phil Male: "The service will have a major impact on the lives of customers and will enable them to benefit from the latest technology from the comfort of their armchairs."
Ondigital's rival BSkyB already offers interactive services including home shopping on its Open ecommerce channel. A Sky Sports interactive football service, where the viewer can change the camera angle, launches on 22 August 1999.
BSkyB will launch an email via the TV service when it launches its full range of interactive digital TV services this Autumn.
A BSkyB spokesman said: "Sky has an interactive digital service already. Unlike Ondigital, satellite is already available across the UK from John O'Groats to Land's End, as well as Ireland. Also, in some areas cable is still unavailable or inaccessible."
Demon Internet recently teamed with the BBC to provide the technology and infrastructure for its free ISP, Freebeeb.net.
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