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Microsoft & ICL reveal cable plans

Partnership extends to interactive TV services

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ICL is getting further into bed with Microsoft with a five year development deal expected to bring in £1 billion in new business. ICL said that in addition to seven new sites already planned, it was opening new offices in Botswana, Finland, India, South Africa and France that would mean up to 250 new jobs. The companies will be working together to devise new smartcard and Internet technologies. The two earlier today revealed details of a deal involving cable company NTL, to develop interactive TV technology. Microsoft currently owns a five per cent stake in NTL and close to 30 per cent of Telewest, NTL's main competitor. The deal with NTL is designed to make the cable company the first British operator to offer interactive television to a wide mass market audience. The idea is that people will be able to access the Internet on the TV, using familiar zapper-like control pads. Once it is up and running, customers will be able to watch music shows and simultaneously access information about various artists and link to online music stores. Register factoid: ICL is already in deep with MS in the area of cash registers which are deep down, really NT workstations. Ghastly nightmare - you may say so, but we couldn't possibly comment. ®

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