GTE Media Ventures launched a digital wireless operation on
Oahu April 13 to compete with Oceanic Cablevision, a Time Warner system.
It is the first line-of-sight video service for the telco;
its California and Florida systems are hardwired.
GTE entered a tough market (Oceanic has penetrated 74
percent of the island's 250,000 cable homes) at a tough time. Asia's economic
woes have spilled over to hurt tourism, Hawaii's No. 1 industry.
"Price is an important consideration here," said
Kit Beuret, director of public affairs for Oceanic Cablevision.
The service, called GTE americast, offers subscribers a
standard package of 100 channels, including 64 video channels and 32 digital music
stations, for $39.95. By contrast, Oceanic's basic package is 45 video channels for
$29.42. The wireless venture will package premium plexes at $13.95 for one to $39.95 for
Time Warner's response to the launch? "Welcome to
the islands," said division president Don Carroll. Oceanic has upgraded the system
and deployed Road Runner, the company's cable modem product.
Hawaiian Tel, GTE Media Ventures' telephony sibling,
will launch high-speed data through ADSL (asymmetical digital subscriber line) technology,
said Blevens. GTE is also considering bundling services by the related companies, to
include telephony, paging, Internet services and video, he said, as well as expansion to
other Hawaiian Islands.
Beuret said he believes his system is more competitive on
price, especially for the whole house. Because of GTE americast's technology,
consumers must rent a decoder, at $6.95 a month, for every connected set.
Blevens said GTE ultimately intends to provide video in 60