Northwestel to offer video on demand

Northwestel may offer video-on-demand to cable customers by the end of year, now that major upgrades to the company’s cable infrastructure are…

Northwestel may offer video-on-demand to cable customers by the end of year, now that major upgrades to the company’s cable infrastructure are complete.

The company has, since spring last year, worked on upgrading cable lines it obtained after purchasing Northern Television Systems. The work, which caused intermittent service delays for customers and cost the company $2 million, ended last week.

The work clears the way for video-on-demand, a service in which customers may download more than 1,500 movies, to rent or own, over digital cable. Unlike pay-per-view, it may be watched at any time.

Movies would be downloaded to computer or other device, such as an X-Box or Archos portable media player. The service won’t currently work with Mac computers or iPods.

With upgrades done, Northwestel last week rolled out a number of new channels to its existing digital cable suite, including NFL Sunday Ticket, which boasts of offering up to 14 football games each Sunday, and NHL Centre Line, which shows up to 40 hockey games a week.

Sports fans, said Anne Kennedy, Northwestel’s director of communications, “will never leave home.”

Another benefit to the upgrades, the company says, is that it should make its cable internet service faster and more reliable. The company says its cable internet offers speeds of up to 10 megabytes per second, in contrast to its ADSL service, which is supposed to offer speeds of 2 megabytes per second, but fluctuates throughout the day.

Since April, Northwestel has followed in the footsteps of other cable companies by offering discounted rates to customers who purchase both cable television and cable internet. The current bundle, Kennedy said, saves customers $15 per month.

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