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Opera hits the small screen

The browser is establishing a foothold in a technology that some see as an emerging force in the next few years: television delivered over IP networks.

The Opera browser is making a television appearance.

Opera Software, which makes the browser, has established a foothold in a technology that some analysts see as an emerging force in the next few years: television delivered over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The Opera browser will be used in an interactive TV box from PlatC2, a player in the Japanese IP television industry, Opera said this week.

The deal is part of Opera's ongoing drive to put the browser into all sorts of non-PC devices, including smart phones such as Sony Ericsson's P800. Microsoft's Internet Explorer thoroughly dominates the PC desktop, but so-called embedded devices are seen as more open to competition.

In PlatC2's Broadband Terminal Box, Opera will act as middleware, presenting all applications and menus in HTML, Java and cascading style sheets (CSS). The small device, about the size and shape of a home smoke detector, is designed to decode MPEG-2 video streams from an asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) or a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband connection.

The browser includes a spatial navigation feature, which allows Web navigation via direction arrows and lets people type e-mails or fill in Web forms via a numeric keypad.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IP television is a still-nascent technology that uses low-cost IP networks to deliver television signals that can offer better quality than DVDs. More than 30 telecommunications companies are already delivering such services, and many more are taking a wait-and-see approach to the technology, according to a recent report from Strategy Analytics. The leading markets for IP television are expected to be Asia and Europe.

Strategy Analytics projects that a just 110,000 homes around the world will be connected to IP television this year but said the number could grow to more than 20 million by 2008.

ZDNet UK's Matthew Broersma reported from London.