Chello and mystery partner to launch broadband learning

The company will announce its new partner next month. Following that, Chello plans to launch commercial products in around October or November, said Philip Alexander, managing director for Chello. He would not reveal the name of the provider.

Before commercial launch, Chello plans to trial three online courses, Alexander said.

The courses include an introductory business course from the Australian National University, a Microsoft Office 2000 course from the unnamed provider and a 12-week e-commerce course from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Students signing up for the courses will receive a Chello subscription as part of the course.

According to Alexander, revenue generated from Chello's content and advertising deals, such as the education partnership and a partnership with LookSmart, will eventually provide the biggest revenue stream for the company. Currently, most revenues are generated from subscriptions.

As the subscription prices drop, revenue generated from e-commerce and advertising will increase, he said.

Meanwhile, Alexander said Chello is pushing ahead with its plans to roll out its private network to 2.1 million homes by the end of the year, despite the possibility of restrictive broadcasting legislation imposed by the federal government.

The government is currently considering imposing legislation restricting internet streaming rights to traditional broadcasters after 2002.

"We are concerned . . . but we are not stopping anything," Alexander said.

If restrictions are imposed, Australia faces the possibility of losing "many billions of dollars" of IT investment and revenue, he said. "(But) we believe commonsense will prevail."

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Luisa Bustos

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