Cox Communications Inc. and Century Communications Corp.
said last week that they will launch enhanced-broadcast services from Wink Communications
Inc. in suburban Los Angeles systems later this year.
Century will offer Wink to digital-cable customers in
Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, using General Instrument Corp. boxes.
And Cox plans to deploy Wink this month or in early April
in its Palos Verdes system, using advanced-analog boxes supplied by GI.
Tom Nagel, director of business and product development for
data services at Cox, called the deployment a consumer trial, and not necessarily an
endorsement of Wink's technology.
Nagel said Cox chose Palos Verdes because it's a
fairly small system that hasn't yet deployed new services such as high-speed-data
service Cox@Home, digital cable or telephony.
Testing Wink in larger markets with many other new services
probably wouldn't generate the response that it deserves, he added, "just
because of all of the clutter."
Wink will be offered as part of an advanced product tier
that includes an electronic programming guide and additional cable channels. Nagel said he
expects Wink to help drive penetration, "but we don't know how much it will
Cox will also test the business model in which it shares
revenues from interactive advertising and purchase transactions with Wink.
In addition to Wink, Cox is looking at a number of TV-based
interactive services for analog or digital set-top boxes, including those from WorldGate
Communications Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s WebTV Networks unit, @Home Network,
Interactive Channel and ICTV Inc.
Wink also has deals with InterMedia Partners,
Tele-Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications.