So this is what happens when two (former) monopolists get together. They snag a few virgins (not to be confused with Richard Branson), put some fresh goat heads on the mantelpiece and ink a television deal.
The result is BT trying to flog us tele delivered over telephone lines using Microsoft’s IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) technology. Confusingly illustrated above, the concept is similar to that already used by a number of smaller operators (most notably HomeChoice) and works via a set-top box which will receive conventional Freeview channels, yet also provide additional content over broadband (regional news, video calls, online chat, etc).
As for timescales, BT says a trial of the service will begin early next year, with a full roll out over the summer. Logically the move makes sense since it is all part of BT’s desire to diversify its business in anticipation of local loop unbundling (LLU) and VoIP making sharp inroads into the company’s profits (yay!).
Consequently, the move is expected to be mimicked by a number of other worried telcos across the globe with Microsoft revealing the likes of Alcatel, Bell South, Swisscom, Telecom Italia and Verizon have all shown interest in the idea, while France Telecom is already planning a video-on-demand service through its Wanadoo Internet division in the UK later this year.
Now whether IPTV can successfully compete with or even sit alongside established delivery mediums like cable and satellite remains to be seen, but anything that moves us further away from ITV must have at least some positive connotations.