Silvio Scaglia, FastWeb founder, chairman and largest shareholder, has turned his attention to a new venture, an internet television and video-on-demand service called Babelgum. Scaglia has invested €10 million, or $13.2 million, of his own money in Babelgum and is the company's chairman and sole investor. The service aims to stream videos over the internet at close-to-television quality using peer-to-peer technology similar to that used by internet phone calling services. It will be introduced publicly in a testing phase at the end of the month, with a full release expected by the end of the year.
The nine Babelgum channels will feature only professionally produced videos, including movie trailers, short films, news clips from The Associated Press, entertainment news, sports, and animation. Babelgum will be free, and early next year when there is more content, advertising clips of as long as 15 seconds will be interspersed between the videos. The content will be in English to appeal to people from all over the world. Users will have to download the Babelgum software, which takes a few minutes, and will need a broadband internet connection of at least 400 kilobits per second. The software mimics the functions of a television, and the image can be made to occupy the entire computer screen or only a small portion.