Time Warner Cable has launched a pilot service to allow cable customers with broadband to access cable television channels over their network connection.

The Broadband TV service is currently only available to some 9,000 subscribers in certain parts of San Diego, California. It will allow cable customers with the Road Runner broadband service to view selected channels on a personal computer, without any additional subscription.

Basic cable customers will be able to see a limited number of channels, while those with higher levels of service will be able to see up to 75 channels.

The Broadband TV service is delivered over the private data network of Time Warner Cable and it is not possible to access the service remotely, or to record programmes. The service currently only supports Windows PCs with Internet Explorer and RealPlayer 10.

The trial service will be an interesting test of the attitude of programming suppliers to the delivery of their channels over a data network. It comes as major telecommunications companies in the United States are planning to launch IPTV or internet protocol television services to compete directly with the cable companies.