The WebTV product was an adapter that allowed a television set to be connected to the Internet, primarily for web browsing and e-mail. The setup included a web browser, a corded or wireless (e.g., bluetooth or IRDA) keyboard and a connection, using a modem, ADSL, cable Internet access, or power line communication.
The WebTV set-top box had very limited processing and memory resources (just a 112 MHz MIPS CPU, 2 megabytes of RAM, 2 megabytes of ROM, 1 megabyte of Flash memory) and the device relied upon a connection through a 33.6 kbit/s dialup modem to connect to the WebTV Service, where powerful servers provide back-end support to the WebTV set-top boxes to support a full Web-browsing and email experience for the subscribers.
I'm too young to have experienced any of this, so I'm kind of confused. Was WebTV built on top of a third-party dial-up internet service? E.g. did a user need to subscribe to something like AOL as well as WebTV? Or was it an all-in-one package that was a sort of replacement for a dial-up internet service (so far as only being accessible through a TV browser)?
Also, apologies if this isn't "retro" enough for this stackexchange, I didn't know where else to ask.