Increasingly finding themselves the winners of parts of bids for major telcos’ IPTV rollouts, Microsoft Corp. and Alcatel made it official last week, announcing a collaboration to provide a joint, end-to-end Internet-protocol software and hardware solution for telephone companies.
“This is the right way to move the industry to an inflection point,” said Alcatel president of fixed solutions activities Allan Mottram.
Added Microsoft TV corporate vice president Moshe Lichtman: “We could not have found a better partner. This will minimize costs and integration headaches.”
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The companies’ most notable wins have been with SBC Communications Inc., which tapped Microsoft for IPTV software and Alcatel for much of the infrastructure to deliver video over digital subscriber lines.
Verizon Communications Inc., which is deploying a more cable-like platform, will use Microsoft’s TV Foundation interactive program guide.
U.S. deployments are but one part of the companies’ international strategy. Microsoft is deploying its IPTV software with a number of telcos, including Telecom Italia, Chungwa Telecom and KPN, while Alcatel has deals with 24 companies for telco TV rollouts.
The deal means Alcatel and Microsoft will walk in the IPTV providers’ door together. “We become recommended providers,” Lichtman said. “Our software will be offered as an integrated solution.”
In addition to joining forces on bids, the companies said they’d work together to develop and build new applications specific to the providers with which they work; enhance the resiliency of network performance in large-scale deployments; integrate content, security and digital rights management; manage quality-of-service through intelligent video packet handling; and develop end-to-end management systems integration.
Alcatel said it will continue to support clients of its open media suite of software, which has been deployed with a number of international telecom operators. “We will support our customers,” Mottram said.
But new software orders would seem to get thrown Microsoft’s way.
“We want to de-risk the technical deployment,” Mottram said. “This is an opportunity to drive the market forward.”