Alcatel, the French broadband equipment maker, has announced a global partnership with Microsoft to develop internet protocol television (IPTV) systems aimed at telecommunications companies.
Under the alliance, the pair—which had competed in the IPTV software market—will create a new integrated platform offering broadband TV viewers multi-channel television, programmes on demand, online gaming and a range of interactive services.
The pact further strengthens Microsoft's hand in the emerging IPTV marketplace, having recently won deals to provide its software solution to US telecoms giants SBC and Verizon. SBC Communications, which recently acquired rival AT&T for $16bn, is planning to launch its IPTV service deploying the Alcatel-Microsoft platform in November.
Microsoft said the alliance would allow the companies to market IPTV products on a global scale.
Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV Division, said the partnership was a "classic win-win".
He went on: "Alcatel will be Microsoft's preferred network access and systems integration partner and Microsoft TV will be Alcatel's preferred software partner for IPTV sales efforts on a global scale.
"This is a precedent-setting alliance for the industry that will create a whole new dynamic that we expect will propel the industry forward.
"With 500m broadband subscribers expected by 2010, 27m IPTV subscribers expected worldwide by 2008, according to some analysts, and the fact that the handful of operators we're already working with have existing relationships with more than 100m consumers, the sky's the limit.
"Together with Alcatel, we're thrilled to be at the forefront of digital TV history and are excited to help our customers bring next-generation TV services more quickly to millions of consumers around the globe."
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