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By | December 13, 2000

      Reborn Luxembourg-based company Europe Online Networks SA, which now describes itself as a “provider of interactive entertainment services”, has launched in its first prime marketing area of Germany, choosing Berlin as its first target.

      Europe Online has now been completely reshaped from its original format as established by Candace Johnson, who though not present in Berlin is understood to be still a shareholder and on the board in the position of “founder”. But in those days Europe Online was primarily an information purveyor via the Internet.

      Now, Europe Online is positioning itself as an Internet delivered entertainment medium, or rather series of media. Its main asset is its library of digital products, including feature films, sports and travel items, plus digital music, together with original in-house material from its own digital studios. As such, it could be regarded as a video store that is visited via the Internet, with customer-selected material being supplied in DVB/MPEG2 format at 1Mbits/s, at the customer’s convenience and without the need to keep an Internet connection open all the time.

      This service is provided via Europe Online’s ‘streaming centre’; the company also offers a ‘download centre’ for supplying music and software (including computer games), which operates in MPEG4 at 2Mbits/s. While Internet access (with up to five aliases) is provided, CEO Dennis F Hightower (ex-Disney) has publicly denied that high-speed net surfing is the object of the Europe Online service offering. Consumer to company traffic is carried by the public switched telephone network.

      The transport vehicle for delivery of Europe Online services is the Astra constellation at 19.2 degrees East, where the company maintains its reservation of four full-time transponders (one with coverage extending as far East as Moscow and beyond). The company also has options for another six transponders, which will be exercised when it expands its services into French-speaking Europe (France, Belgium and western Switzerland). This is scheduled for spring next year. This comes on the back of speculation last month that suggested that Europe Online would drop Astra (see issue 704).

      Targets further down the line are Italy and Spain. For services to the UK and Scandinavian countries, also being planned, Europe Online will use the Astra satellites at 28.2 degrees East, on which it has options but so far no firm reservations, according to chief operating officer John Morris.

      A digital e-commerce service for online purchase of copyright products which have to be paid for is “in the works”, added Morris.

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