Italian Internet Television

    July 23, 2005

Telecom Italia announced their leap into the Internet television business starting massive trials in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Palermo. They look to roll out services in 21 cities by the fall and say over 4 million households will have access to a wide variety of programming.

The content will include news, sports, music, reality shows (HAH!) and live events at a lean 4 MB per second ADSL connection. People will surf the net, have email access and watch regular TV all from their television set.

Telecom Italia began the has already begun the free trial to more than a thousand people in the four major cities and Microsoft, Alcatel and Pirelli are all getting involved in the project.

Cities slated to get the service after the initial roll out include Rome, Milan, Bologna, Palermo, Bari, Naples, Padua, Cagliari, Genoa, Florence, Alessandria, Modena, Venice, Verona, Turin, Trieste, Catania, Brescia, Biella, Sondrio and Reggio Emilia.

One of the services to be offered and certainly one of the most sought after will include live coverage of Serie A TIM and B TIM Italian football (soccer) and basketball. They also have catalog of 600 films lined up and said they will add 30 new films per month, reality shows, live concerts and host of other items.

According to Telecom Italia, during the trial phase, IPTV users have a special “set top box” connect to their TV to access content over an Alice 4 Mega link. Users will also have and ADSL Wi-FI Modem that could connect up to 5 PCs at any one time. An infrared keyboard also allows users to access the Internet and send and receive email from their TV.

The company said Alcatel is adding it’s latest generation of ADSL access devices and its “Open Media Suite” set top box. Microsoft is kicking in its “Microsoft TV IPTV Edition”” software, testing their own version of for-payment video services. Pirelli Broadband will throw in the networking tools in the name of modular routers that work well with high-end video.

This sounds a lot like the next generation in “WebTV” that Microsoft and other companies have dabbled with in the past and this could quite easily be the direction of television in the future. It doesn’t take much speculation to see that this might even be the kind of direction Microsoft might be going with the Xbox360 console or the Xbox version on the table after that one, particularly since their marketing around this one has been more around a group experience of entertainment, gaming, watching movies, etc.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.