SkyCable Begins to Offer Internet Access

MANILA (02/01/2000) - SkyCable, the Philippines' leading cable TV company, has quietly launched its cable Internet service, and plans a major roll-out by February.

In the period before the formal launch, however, the company is already offering the service to existing Skycable subscribers and doing user acceptance tests in selected households.

Unlike dial-up services, Skycable's Internet service will charge a user based on the amount of data that moves through his connection, said Bren Evangelista, support center manager at Skycable.

A number of plans will be available, with the cheapest being 1,700 pesos a month (US$42), which allows subscribers to download up to 100M bytes. Other plans are 2,200 pesos a month, for 200M bytes, 2,700 pesos a month for 400M bytes, and 5,000 pesos a month for 1,000M bytes.

Evangelista said these fees will cover the cost of a cable modem, but not the cable TV subscription itself, which is a prerequisite. She also said surfing speeds would be between 80K bits per second (bps) and 100K bps, or about two times the theoretical maximum of a dial-up connection (56K bps).

In contrast, Destiny Cable charges a total of 1,895 pesos per month for unlimited access and the cost of leasing a cable modem. If a user chooses to buy the cable modem outright for 12,500 pesos, the monthly fee falls to 1,250 pesos.

Unlike Skycable, Destiny throws in the cable TV subscription. Evangelista said Skycable is doing user acceptance tests to ensure that the kinks are worked out before the formal launch. "We have time to perfect the system," she said.

She also acknowledged that not all Skycable subscribers will be able to get the Internet service right away, because the cable infrastructure in some areas is not two-way serviceable yet. Evangelista added, however, that the company will be gradually upgrading these areas.

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