BT to Challenge BSkyB with Broadband TV Service; Partners with Microsoft on Web Conferencing

BT has announced it has plans to introduce a broadband television service in the UK, aimed to compete directly with BskyB’s Sky+ service. With the cheeky codename “Sky Plus Plus”, a nod to object-based programers everywhere, the project is intended to increase broadband adoption. This will be BT’s first foray into broadcasting, after months and months of false starts and speculation.

BT has already approached the BBC and ITV for content for the project, but will need much more than just those two if it really wants to compete with Sky+.

The telco had originally intended to launch the service in October, but delayed because they thought the initial package was too complicated as it comprised a digital set-top box and PC modem, plus subscribers would have to pay an additional fee for broadband internet access. They have not yet specified if subscribers will have to use a PC to view content, or if it will be viewable on televisions. Also undecided is whether the company will be streaming live programmes or just presenting video on demand. If they are to compete effectively with BSkyB, the BT offering must provide a much wider range of features, as Sky+ offers live television, pausing, archiving and renowned ease of use.

BT has also announced a new partnership with Microsoft – this time to deliver a next-generation collaboration service. Going far beyond video conferencing, the service basically glues together BT’s audio conference products and Microsoft’s Office Live Meeting.

BT have piloted the service internally in the past year, and claim to have saved 6.2 million miles of business travel, which also means 112 million less litres of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere from vehicles.


Microsoft’s Office Live Meeting

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?