Microsoft has turned to a Swiss telecommunication operator for the first commercial trial of its system that delivers television signals to consumers over a broadband telecommunications network.
Beginning in September, Swisscom's Internet service provider (ISP) subsidiary, Bluewin, will deliver 25 TV channels to set-top boxes in 600 homes.
During the four-month trial, testers would have access to five pay-TV channels and a video-on-demand service through the set-top boxes, which also function as a digital video recorder with a live pause function, Microsoft said. Testers would have to pay for the service.
Microsoft expected the trial to result in the launch of a Bluewin TV service over ADSL in 2005, it said.
At the end of June, Bluewin had 390,000 ADSL customers, while parent Swisscom had a further 269,000 ADSL lines in operation used by customers of other ISPs, according to Swisscom figures.
Swisscom, the former state monopoly operator, has about 3.1 million telephone lines in operation for a population of about 7.3 million, according to the 2000 government census.
Microsoft and Swisscom are trailing the pack in the race to sign up customers to digital TV over ADSL.
In France, several of the major ISPs already offer television programming over ADSL, notably Free SAS, a subsidiary of Iliad, which offers ADSL service at up to 6Mbps with free telephone calls and 100 TV channels to 355,000 of its 768,000 ADSL customers.
About 4.5 million of France's 11 million Internet connections are via ADSL, according to ART, the French telecommunications regulatory authority. The country has a population of 60 million.