BT picks Microsoft TV platform

BT agrees to test Microsoft's new IPTV software platform

BT Group has decided to trial Microsoft's new Internet-based TV platform after one carrier requested more time to iron out the bugs and another opted to pull the plug on the technology altogether.

The British operator has agreed to test the Microsoft TV Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) Edition software platform in the U.K. early next year, the companies said Tuesday in a statement.

The Microsoft technology allows network operators to deliver high-quality video content and services to their customers using their existing and next-generation IP broadband networks. It supports a full set of pay-TV service offerings, including standard and high-definition channels, on-demand programming, digital video recording and interactive program guides.

The BT announcement, however, follows Telstra's decision last week to cancel its deal to use the US company's software.

Telstra dropped out of the Microsoft early adopter program for its end-to-end IPTV software platform, according to Microsoft.

Telstra is not the first company to hit a bump in its plans to deploy IPTV using Microsoft's platform. Swisscom, another Microsoft TV IPTV Edition early adopter, in May delayed the full commercial launch of its IPTV service from the second half of 2005 to sometime next year. The carrier cited problems with finding suitable set-top boxes for the service, as well as technical difficulties with Microsoft software, for the delay.

Prior to the delay, Swisscom had completed Microsoft's early-adopter program and tested Microsoft's IPTV platform with 600 Swiss households in anticipation of the mid-2005 launch of the service, called Bluewin TV.

Microsoft currently has two signed commercial software licensing agreements with two US carriers, SBC Communications and Verizon Communications, to provide IPTV services using Microsoft's platform. Other companies in the early adopter program but which do not have commercial agreements with Microsoft include BellSouth, BellCanada and Deutsche Telekom.

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