Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to further roll out its Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) software under a global agreement with French telecommunications equipment company Alcatel.
Together they will market an integrated IPTV delivery product using Alcatel's network access equipment and system integration services and Microsoft's TV IPTV Edition software.
The companies will jointly sell the IPTV delivery product to broadband providers worldwide, with the aim of accelerating the growth of TV services over high-speed networks, they said.
"This partnership will help service providers reduce costs and headaches when rolling out new services," Alcatel's President of Fixed Solutions Activities Alan Mottram said during a conference call Tuesday.
Under the deal, Alcatel will make Microsoft its preferred network access and system integration partner, while Microsoft TV will serve as the French company's preferred software partner on global IPTV sales, they said.
The companies will also partner on developing and customizing applications for broadband providers, as well as integrating software into networks.
The collaboration has been in the making for sometime, and was solidified by both companies' work with SBC Communications Inc. to rollout IPTV services, they said.
Alcatel already has software, called Open Media Client (OMC), for IP-based set-top boxes and the company plans to continue investing in and supporting that product despite the Microsoft deal, Mottram said. Although it has named Microsoft as its preferred IPTV software provider, if a customer chooses OMC they will provide it, he added.
For Microsoft, the deal allows it to extend the reach of its TV software to Alcatel's global broadband clients.
"In Alcatel we could not have found a better partner," Moshe Lichtman, Microsoft's corporate vice president of its TV division, said during the call.
Alcatel also plans to build network and system design services on top of the joint platform, Mottram said. He added that they will make application protocol interfaces open to content providers and other systems integrators to further build out the IPTV ecosystem.
Broadband providers are interested delivering the "triple play" of voice, data and video services and the time is ripe for IPTV, Mottram said.
The companies already have joint customers that will be announced shortly, they said.
Microsoft has also reached IPTV deals with US broadband providers Verizon Communications and BellSouth, among others.