01 July 1998

BRITAIN’S THIRD LARGEST cable network NTL is poised to be first past the post in the race to bring interactive TV to our screens, leaving BSkyB, British Interactive Broadcasting and Cable & Wireless Communications as also-rans. The NTL network, which currently has a million subscribers, kicks the interactive ball into touch at the end of October, with the launch of its Internet access service. In its wake will follow a host of interactive services - banking, home shopping, holidays, games and education - all on offer via an ordinary terrestrial TV plus set-top box. Potential service providers, with whom NTL is in 'advanced discussions', include household names such as Airtours, Barclays Bank, British Airways, the Open University and Universal Studios. NTL’s lagging rivals are unlikely to launch their interactive services before next year, probably not until the second half.