RealTime IT News

Broadcom, Canal+ Technologies Work on Chip, Set-Top Box Designs

At the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam Friday, chipmaker Broadcom Corp., inked a specification agreement with Paris-based Canal+ Technologies to develop set-top box technology for interactive television (iTV) applications.

The firms, which also agreed to collaborate in certain markets on chip specification and set-top box designs, did not make financial details public Friday.

Specifically, Broadcom's set-top box chip family will support Canal's MEDIAHIGHWAY middleware, which enables digital TV subscribers to watch and store multimedia programs, and will make software firms for this technology available to its customers to make integration of MEDIAHIGHWAY with Broadcom chipsets easier.

With the pact, Broadcom and Canal said digital operators around the world will be able to offer their customers set-top boxes designed for optimum performance on the MEDIAHIGHWAY architecture.

Broadcom's chips are geared to power personal video recording (PVR), graphics, Internet access and modulation to the set-top box market. By signing on with Canal +, Broadcom's hopes it chips and solutions will find their way to a larger, next-generation-TV-hungry marketplace.

On the other side of the coin, Canal+ should benefit from Broadcom's highly-rated chips. Canal+, whose software runs in over 10 million set-top boxes in digital cable, satellite and terrestrial environments, has its U.S. headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Jean-Marc Racine, Canal+ Technologies' Executive Vice President of Marketing, discussed the significance of the deal in a public statement.

"We have already been working with Broadcom technology in Asia and the United States and have been impressed with the level of integration and performance that Broadcom chip products have been able to achieve thus far," said Racine. "Broadcom's commitment to ensure that its technology works with ours will open up new markets to us and will give us additional choice of ICs for set-top box products for our current markets."

While working with Broadcom against the likes of such competition as OpenTV, Liberate Technologies and Microsoft Corp. is good for Canal, iTV is so nascent that it may take years before agreements that get penned now actually bear fruit. That theory comes courtesy of Forrester Group, which said Friday that iTV may not take off for five years and that a shakeout could unfold in the meantime. The report focused on the U.K. specifically, saying that iTV will fall on tough times because retailers selling on the platform are concerned about return on investment (ROI) issues.