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BT looks at entering pay-per-view television market

LONDON - BT Group is set to enter the pay-per-view television market with a digital TV and internet service delivered via high-speed broadband.

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According to a report in today's Financial Times, BT is in discussions to develop set-top boxes that would connect broadband internet and television sets. Viewers would then be able to download films and other content to watch on their TVs. The boxes are likely to retail at £129, according to the newspaper.

It is part of plans for BT to develop branded premium services to increase the uptake of BT Broadband subscriptions. The telecommunications company recently launched a joint broadband offering with Yahoo! -- a company that is also driving revenues by launching premium services for members.

BT would offer the service to allow viewers to watch programmes at a convenient time for them, rather than as scheduled by a broadcaster. The FT report also says that BT will have a library of content for people to choose from, including old television dramas and movies.

While current broadband speeds are not fast enough to allow viewers to watch high-quality streamed content, BT is reported to be developing technology to guarantee faster connections for certain broadband users. This could lead to BT offering faster connection at a higher monthly subscription fee than users are currently paying.

Netgem and SetPal are looking at developing the set-top boxes for BT, having already produced the hardware needed to obtain the Freeview service.

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