Nynex Corp. and BellSouth Corp. are separately seeking Federal Communications Commission permission to test interactive services next year, joining Ameritech, Bell Atlantic Corp., Pacific Bell, Southwestern Bell and U S West in committing to a trial.
Southwestern Bell has not formally sought FCC permission to test interactive media, but it is expected to do so soon. Last February, Southwestern Bell detailed its plans for an interactive media test to begin in 45,000 homes in Texas next year.
Although they waited longer than their brethren to outline their interactive plans, both Nynex and BellSouth are now moving forward aggressively.
Nynex wants approval to build an interactive media network reaching as many as 330,000 homes and businesses in the Boston area while it continues construction of a 60,000-home interactive network in Warwick, R.I. By the end of 1996, Nynex hopes to have 1 million homes in New York wired for interactive services; in each case, the network would offer a broad array of TV entertainment and information services.
BellSouth also asked the FCC for permission to test interactive multimedia services in Atlanta, expected to begin next year with 12,000 homes.
"We waited until interactive media technology evolved to the point where we can say that our test will be commercially deployable," a BellSouth spokesman said. "We want to make interactive media as simple and convenient as ordinary cable TV service."
Both trials require FCC approval.
Southwestern Bell said it's waiting for the FCC's anticipated updating of its rules for telephone companies' offerings before making a formal filing for permission to offer interactive services.
"We expect to file within a couple of months and we feel our timing is very good for a market probe that we'll treat like a business, complete with marketing, advertising and billing," a Southwestern Bell spokesman said.