BT to launch interactive TV services

The BT Group will use Microsoft’s IPTV technology to launch its interactive TV services
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BT will deliver VOD and interactive features such as online chat, voting, gambling and video games with Microsoft’s product. But unlike other phone companies such as SBC Communications, BT is not planning to use the IPTV platform to deliver the regular lineup of cable TV channels.

Instead, it will integrate the technology with a free digital broadcast platform introduced by the BBC in 2001.

The announcement came at an opportune time for Microsoft, which has seen IPTV trials with customers in Switzerland and Australia stumble over the past month, the Associated Press reported. In May, Swisscom announced it wouldn’t launch its IPTV service during the second half of 2005 as planned. And last week, Telstra of Australia revealed it would not conduct market trials with the software.

SBC, based in San Antonio, initially planned to start selling IPTV-based cable service in at least one market by the end of 2005. But in recent months, the timetable has drifted to late 2005 or early 2006. So far, SBC has only tested the Microsoft technology in the field at a handful of employees’ homes. A larger trial with employees is slated for this summer.

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