EPGs are interactive directory systems for locating programmes amongst the thousands available each day. The EPG may also provide access to user help, the system setup functions, parental filtering control and supplier contact information. SkyDigital call their EPG SkyGuide.
|Depending on their functionality, the EGP allows viewers to:
Later, viewers will also be able to access a range of other interactive services, such as home banking and shopping, and accessing related internet sites..
EPGs are driven by the microprocessor hardware and software in the set-top decoder box, although digital TVs will have this built-in. The major software companies are vying to make their software the standard (see Hardware and Software Standards).
DTV Navigator is software from Liberate (formally Network Computers Inc. (NCI)), a joint venture by Oracle and Netscape (itself just taken over by AOL). Besides providing the EPG, the DTV Navigator software will allow users to order movies on demand, surf the World Wide Web, send and receive e-mail, play games with other users or against a central computer, make bets and do their shopping and banking on-line (see new services). DTV Navigator has been adopted by all the 3 main UK cable companies, Cable and Wireless, Telewest and NTL.
|Microsoft is using its Windows CE operating
system in the Web-TVs made by the WebTV Networks, the company it recently
acquired. It has also invested in AT&T and as part of the deal acquired
a 29.9% stake in Telewest to add to its smaller stake in NTL. The AT&T
agreement covers the use of Windows CE in AT&T's decoders.
How this squares with the use of NCI's decoder is unclear.
Open TV is a a proprietary system being used by SkyDigital together with the Oracle database system.
Web Based EPG
Flextech has taken another root to be first to market. It has created a web based EPG called “Toaster” which also offers e-commerce transactional capabilities. Flextech says the site is extremely popular.
Flextech's Toaster EPG
Web site showing various TV listings
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