Just when you thought the market for Internet connections was getting supersaturated, along come two more.
In one deal this week, WavePhore and PBS National Datacast announced a new full-service wireless network for consumers and businesses to receive news and data on their PCs.
In another, Frontier and Quest Communications teamed up to build a $2 billion network to carry phone conversations and data. Quest is controlled by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, better known for making his fortune from oil and railroads, not advanced communications.
The big moneymaking potential in advanced communications is clear. The number of people using the Internet from home has more than doubled to 14.7 million from 6.2 million in 1995, according to a study released this week by Jupiter Communications and Find/SVP.
While the Frontier-Quest deal relies on traditional wirelines, the WavePhore deal is based on a wireless technology that it contends will be less vulnerable to congestion. The content is delivered via what is called the "vertical blanking interval" of the television signals of PBS and its member stations.
"This technology is a great complement to the Internet because the enormous amount of content being delivered to PCs would best be done via a broadcast mode," WaveFore chief executive David Deeds said.
Deeds said the network reaches about 99 percent of TV households in the United States.
Both companies hope to get their systems up and running in the next few years. They face myriad risks, however. Competition is keen: Telephone companies, the cable TV industry, and satellite operators are all moving into the market in full force. And many players, such as AT&T, Tele-Communications Incorporated, and Hughes Network Systems, have already staked out clear territories.