Active-TV Ecosystem Developers,
BT in the UK is pushing ahead with their support for a networked DVB-t box for mid 2006 launch. They are calling it “BT Freeview Plus". This is an interesting play on BSkyB naming. The box will have an 80Gb PVR and will be subsidized (by who?) to reach a £70 price point. It is becoming clear that BT will use the Microsoft TV middleware platform for IPTV. Microsoft has been struggling to win business but they have no doubt “made a big effort”.
The BT Freeview Plus box will likely use SigmaDesign 8634 Si. This is new for them, but adds transport stream support; so allowing a hybrid DVB-t and IP-TV solution. The 8634 chip supports H.264, MPEG2 and WMV9.
BT has a deal with the BBC to support the BBC iMP catch-up service. This will likely mean little adoption for the MCE version of the BBC iMP on a living room PC. It is not clear if the BBC port of iMP to an MCE version will also be supported on the Microsoft TV middleware platforms. It is known that a Microsoft TV middleware box can be a networked-client to an MCE Extended-PC, but we don’t know all the BT strategy here. It is unlikely any of the box subsidy comes from the BBC, so their must be another premium content provider involved in the BT-Microsoft plan.
Remember recently that Cisco bought Kiss in Denmark. Kiss has been a user of the SigmaDesign Si. Of course, Cisco also own Linksys. Well, Linksys-KiSS plan to offer an IPTV Edition-compatible set-tops with integrated DVB-T tuners and conditional access support for European network operators. The boxes are scheduled for availability December. I think “compatible” means, supports the MS IPTV direction. Given Kiss and SigmaDesign, limitations, the CA refers to DVB-CI. Kiss in the past have not supported the Microsoft TV middleware stack.
Clearly there is a very strong move in the European market to support networked DVB-t. It is not clear how the Kiss-Linksys DVB-t box will be subsidized or be differentiated from the BT Freeview Plus box. Anyway, it may be directed to countries other than the UK. Possibly the Kiss-LinkSys offering will also support the DivX Codec. However, this may be ‘incompatible” with Microsoft TV.
Comments, corrections and feedback welcome