Microsoft has announced plans to further roll out its Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) software under a global agreement with French telecommunications equipment maker, 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 would jointly sell the 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.
Under the deal, Alcatel will make the software giant its preferred network access and system integration partner, while Microsoft TV will serve as the preferred software partner on global IPTV sales. The companies will also partner on developing and customising applications for broadband providers, as well as integrating software into networks.
The collaboration had been in the making for some time, and was solidified by both companies' work with SBC Communications 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 provider, if a customer chose OMC they would provide it, he said.
For Microsoft, the deal allows it to extend the reach of its TV software to Alcatel's global broadband clients.
"We could not have found a better partner," Microsoft's corporate vice-president of its TV division, Moshe Lichtman, said.
Alcatel also plans to build network and system design services on top of the joint platform, Mottram said.
It would make application protocol interfaces open to content providers and other systems integrators to further build out the IPTV ecosystem.