An estimated 150 houses in NSW's Orange district will get access to $700 worth of interactive television services and equipment for three months, courtesy of an ICE Interactive iTV pilot program.
According to ICE managing director Carl Braden, the iTV software and services wholesaler will install set-top boxes and printers in Orange homes for up to three months, free of charge. The set-tops will deliver digital interactive data via an existing analog infrastructure, Braden said.
The retail cost of the equipment will be around $600, with the cost of the iTV service over that time expected to be around $100, Braden said.
Braden was quick to differentiate the services that ICE will offer Orange residents from what he described as "glorified teletext".
Services offered will include news, weather, email and digital mail, television banking, interactive advertising and interactive educational services -- accessible at an average download speed of 33.3Kbps, Braden said.
ICE's technology platform is based on Oracle, Java and Liberate Enhanced iTV software.
Braden stressed that ICE did not expect to turn the Orange pilot into future business. Rather, the purpose of the venture is to obtain "operation metrics", as well as information on iTV end-user habits.