IPTV comes to some Canadian Xbox 360 owners

Some lucky Canadian residents will be the first to get streaming TV through their Xbox 360 with a new service from telecommunications provider Telus.

Telus' Optik TV running on an Xbox 360
Telus/CNET

Canadian telecommunication provider Telus is now offering its TV programming through Microsoft's Xbox 360.

The service, which was launched on Wednesday in neighboring provinces Alberta and British Columbia, makes use of Microsoft's Mediaroom software for delivering live TV content without the need for a coaxial connection or any special hardware.

This software is not yet built-in to the Xbox 360's system software, nor is it available through the Xbox Live Marketplace as a download. Instead, it runs off a disc supplied by Telus. Users also need to be paid Telus Optik TV subscribers to access its programming.

IPTV on an Xbox 360
Telus/CNET

Among the features included are 400 digital channels, 50 of which can be broadcast in high definition. Customers can also use the software to stream recordings from the company's Optik DVR set-top boxes, as long as both the Xbox and set-top box on the same home network.

The software is not yet able to record to, or even access the Xbox 360's built-in storage, but it can effectively replace the need for a standard set-top cable receiver. A Telus spokesperson told CNET that customers will still need to rent a set-top box to make use of the service.

Telus is the first telecommunications provider in North America to use the Xbox 360 to deliver IPTV. The technology's extension was announced three years ago during a CES keynote speech by Bill Gates, though Microsoft has been slow to roll out to its game console.

In the interim, Mediaroom has showed up in other places like AT&T's U-Verse service in the U.S., and through the Guangzhou Digital Media Group in China , but not on the Xbox short of a deal with the BT Group in Europe. At this year's CES, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that IPTV on the Xbox 360, as well as other platforms, would be headed to other markets (including U-Verse) later this year.

As a promotion, Telus is offering its subscribers free Xbox 360 hardware if they're willing to sign a two-year contract with the company's high-speed Internet service. Existing customers can user their own hardware without additional fees as long as they're already an Optik TV subscriber.

 

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