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BT is to begin trials of video-on-demand (VoD) via broadband early next year ahead of a full commercial launch scheduled for summer 2006.

Viewers will be able to watch regular TV programmes via a set-top box (STB) and an aerial, while additional content will also be available for download via a broadband connection that is then stored on the STB.

Details of BT's venture into VoD emerged as Microsoft announced that the UK's dominant telco would be using its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) Edition software platform to deliver TV over broadband.

Microsoft's IPTV will enable video content and services to be piped to BT broadband punters giving the telco a new source of revenue.

Said BT Retail chief exec Ian Livingston: "BT and Microsoft share a common vision for converged entertainment in the home. TV over broadband services will play an important role in BT's triple-play offering for consumers.

"Our proposed complementary approach of over-the-air broadcast and broadband-delivered video-on-demand, interactivity and enhanced support is the perfect solution and complements existing TV propositions already in the UK market," he said.

In September BT announced it was looking at a TV-cum-video-on-demand over broadband service by hooking up with Freeview, the UK's digital TV service which provides up to 30 free digital TV channels and more than 20 digital radio station.

Broadband rivals Wanadoo and AOL UK are both looking at VoD as a way of adding extra broadband services for punters.

Last week UK digital satellite outfit Sky announced that its viewers will be able to download movies and sports via their PCs when it unveils a new "on-demand" service later this year. ®

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