Samsung, Octal ready Microsoft TV set-top boxes

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Portugal’s Octal Engenharia de Sistemas SA (Octal) announced Monday plans to jointly develop cable and satellite television set-top boxes based on Microsoft Corp.’s Microsoft TV software platform.

Under the terms of the deal, which was signed in Seoul on Dec. 8, the two companies will jointly develop the necessary hardware and software as well as co-market the set-top boxes around the world to cable TV, satellite and terrestrial broadcasting companies, Samsung and Octal said in a joint statement.

First commercial shipments of the new set-top boxes are expected in March of 2001 when Octal will begin supplying them to TV Cabo, Portugal’s largest cable TV operator, under a US$30 million contract. The Portuguese operator reaches more than 2.15 million homes mainly via cable TV networks but also operates a supplemental satellite service, according to the statement.

The Microsoft TV-based set-top boxes will support reception of interactive digital video broadcasting services, including free-to-air, subscription and pay per view services. In addition, they will also support broadband Internet access, video and audio on demand services, home shopping, home banking, e-mail and other similar services. A DVD (digital versatile disc) player will also be integrated into the units, the companies said.

Samsung Electronics, in Seoul, can be contacted at Octal, in Lisbon, is at