Microsoft adds France to IPTV trials

Club Internet, the French subsidiary of Germany’s T-Online International AG, has agreed to pilot IPTV (Internet Protocol television) services based on a software platform designed by Microsoft Corp., the companies announced Tuesday.

The move by the French ISP (Internet service provider), which plans to offer the “triple-play” of VOIP (voice over IP), high-speed Net access and IPTV over its broadband network, comes as numerous bandwidth suppliers around the globe seek to diversify their service portfolio and generate new revenue streams.

The choice of Microsoft as a software partner for IPTV service also comes less than two weeks after Swisscom Ltd. said it was delaying its commercial Web TV offering until an undetermined date next year, citing a lack of suitable set-top boxes and problems with the U.S. software giant’s proprietary technology.

“There are a lot of pieces — from the network infrastructure to the software platform and end-user devices — that have to work together to provide an end-to-end IPTV service, and on top of that, many operators have different requirements,” said Ed Graczyk, director of marketing and communications for Microsoft TV. “In a few cases, some work is still required to make all this happen.”

For its trial, Club Internet will use the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition platform. The technology is designed to offer instant channel changing speed, easy navigation, video-on-demand, personal video recorder functions and Internet services, such as e-mail and Web surfing.

Several other telecommunication companies are currently testing Microsoft’s IPTV technology, including Telecom Italia SpA, BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications Inc.

For its French triple-play service, T-Online, a subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, has chosen Ciena Corp. to supply optical transport technology and Lucent Technologies Inc. to design, build and maintain a national broadband access network in France.

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