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Tests finished for TV Net signals

Sinclair Broadcast Group has completed tests to send Internet data through TV signals.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, a company consisting of television and radio stations across the nation, has completed what it calls "extensive" tests on a system that would bring the Internet and TV broadcasts to the home with television signals.

Supercast, like Intel's Intercast technology, sends digital information to computers through the portion of the television signal known as the Vertical Blanking Interval, or VBI, that is reserved for transmitting data such as closed captioning. In fact, both systems encode data for transmission with products made by Norpak of Canada.

Sinclair, the nation's seventh largest broadcast company, plans a rapid roll-out of the new technology and claims that it will be the first company to broadcast information in this manner.

Jim Johnson, vice president of sales and marketing for Norpak, said the systems are similar, but Sinclair's technology is aiming to provide high-speed Internet service, rather than television programming to PCs.

In tests conducted in two Baltimore stations owned by Sinclair, the system was used to deliver digital data throughout the area at nearly 100 kbps. Both Supercast and Intercast use a standard telephone line and standard dial-up data rates to send data back from the PC to the server.

Sinclair says the signal will work with computers equipped with a "broadcast modem" that connects a TV antenna or cable connection and modem into an expansion slot. The modems that Sinclair uses to receive VBI transmissions are currently available but won't be able to receive Intercast transmissions. Supercast will work with all Web browsers, while Intercast currently only works with Netscape Navigator.

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