Cambridge Interactive TV Trial
These are my personal notes and references relating to the Online Media Trial.
While I participated in the Trial from February 1996 - March 1997
I was bound by the confidentiality agreement.
What follows are my notes predating joining the trial, based on various announcements
and demos, plus any public announcements, links etc. since, along with my own observations.
- BBC Education
- Local schools - Netherhall
- Anglia University - Anglia Telematics Research
(mainly Communications Studies students' videos, with a Web front-end)
- News: local evening BBC TV, Radio Cambridgeshire and Anglia West TV bulletins.
When the Web browser became available, the Anglia West news was also made available as
a text Web page, with links into the video stream if you wanted to see a particular item.
This was my favourite feature of the Trial.
- Some Anglia TV Survival and other documentaries
- World-Wide Web:
a remarkably good browser given the extreme memory constraints of the
Set Top Box Mark 1 (STB-1).
Personal bookmarks were a vital feature.
Items in the News
Cambridge Evening News 1-Feb-96:
Online Media has received funding from the EU AMUSE (Advanced Multimedia Services for Residential Users),
part of the ACTS programme.
OM also received a 6-figure sum to develop a new chip set under OMI (Open Microprocessor Initiative).
As part of the Interactive TV Trial, this was to give NatWest customers online access to various routine facilties.
Any Trial user could bring up the initial screen, which was a curious video loop of a living room and
a man coming & going. There were subsidiary promotional videos.
I applied for a PIN for access to account functions but they managed to cock-up my application and by the time
it was sorted out, their trial had finished.
I registered my interest with OM in November 1994 but it wasn't till September 1995 that they mailshotted me.
I replied immediately but then there was a delay: I think they needed to form a cluster of trial users to
make laying on the service there worthwhile. They finally contacted me to arrange installation in
mid-March 1996 and a CC installation engineer duly arrived. He replaced the normal termination box by my
front door with what I'd call a barrel connector and supplied instead a new box near the cable decoder which also
split off the 2Mb ATM signal via a RJ45 socket. He left a Set-Top Box (STB-1) and relevant info.
I soon found however that the STB would not boot - it could not establish communications. I reported it
and on the following Monday someone must have tried fixing it at the kerb-side box.
When I got home neither cable TV nor the STB worked.
Two evenings later a pair of CC engineers turned up and after much effort they got cable TV working.
They'd been delayed as the original engineer hadn't labelled the cable & they had to use trial-and-error to find it.
They also enabled The Movie Channel, my nominated free channel as a reward for participation.
The STB still wasn't working: someome from OM had to come and sort out the incorrect installation.
CC charged me throughout the trial for my "free" channel, in spite of all my efforts to correct matters.
All I managed to achieve was a 6-month period of no bills at all (but they were still Direct Debiting).
The helpful Customer Support lady I dealt with said she had no way of compelling the billing people to fix things.
Last updated: 16-JUL-1996