Completely bypassing the Internet and modems, WaveTop uses the vertical blanking interval (VBI) in television signals to broadcast content to home computers with built-in TV tuners or with add-on TV tuner cards.
The company, in partnership with PBS, uses the television signals of the 264 member stations of PBS National Datacast. The PBS network covers more than 99 percent of U.S. households.
The first general release of WaveTop will be available in the first quarter of 1998 and will be compatible with Windows 95, the company said. The next generation of WaveTop will be included in Microsoft's Windows 98--scheduled for release in the second quarter of 1998--taking advantage of the new operating system's broadcast architecture.
Content providers signed up with the new service include Time Warner--which publishes Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, Money, and Fortune--as well as Yahoo and Yahooligans, the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, and USA Today, bringing the total number of content providers to 23.
"In bypassing the bottleneck of the Internet, we can provide more robust information in real time," said Sandy Goldman, WaveTop's senior vice president and general manager.
WaveTop, which is provided free and is ad supported, hopes that advertisers will be attracted by the service's ability to offer high-bandwidth advertisements.
Since the service will broadcast entire Web sites--up to 150 MB of data per day--users will need a lot of space on their hard drives and at least 32 MB of memory, according to the company.