The high-speed-data company @Home Networks and two Dutch
cable operators will form a new joint venture company called @Home Netherlands -- the
first move in a plan for the high-speed data-service to branch out internationally.
Late last week, At Home Corp. reached an agreement with
Dutch cable operators CasTel and Palet Kabelcom to form a high-speed-data service modelled
closely after the Redwood City, Calif.-based organization.
The arrangement was struck in a way that other Dutch
operators can join too, said John O'Farrell, senior vice president of international
activities for @Home.
Similar arrangements with MSOs in other countries are also
on the drawing board, O'Farrell said.
"We're in discussions with just about
everybody," he said.
O'Farrell said @Home's strategic plans include
similar joint venture's on a country-by-country basis, targeting English-speaking
areas first for content reasons.
@Home Netherlands will develop and market a Dutch version
of the service both in the Netherlands and in the Flemish-speaking parts of Belgium. The
service launches early next year, O'Farrell said.
Palet and CasTel will make the service available to their
1.4 million households, which represent over 20 percent of Dutch homes.
Tom Jermoluk, chairman and CEO of @Home, was still in
Europe at press time, but said in a statement that high consumer demand, high disposable
income and high, usage-based charges for dial-up access to the Internet "makes Europe
a promising market."
O'Farrell noted that cable penetration rates in
Holland run at about 96 percent, because networks used to be considered a utility until
they were opened for competition earlier this year. Also, personal-computer penetration in
the area is roughly 35 percent, or about as high as in the U.S., he said.
@Home Netherlands will be linked over transatlantic fiber
optic lines to @Home Network's East Coast feed.