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OpenTV first to enter Chinese market

The software developer and Shanghai Cable Networks will tune Chinese subscribers into interactive television for what OpenTV says is the first time.

OpenTV announced Monday that its software for interactive TV services will be installed on set-top boxes for Shanghai Cable Network subscribers.

The services will allow subscribers to make purchases and give them access to Web sites over their televisions. According to a note sent to investors Monday, the Mountain View, Calif.-based software developer will make additional announcements about applications for the Chinese market in the near future.

The deal marks the first time interactive TV services will be available to Chinese viewers, OpenTV said. The services using OpenTV software are expected to begin later this year.

Interactive TV has not taken off in Asia as it has in Europe, in part because of the limited access to broadband networks there. But this first step is a big one, said Banc of America Securities analyst William Bean.

The companies did not reveal details about the agreement; however, OpenTV said it was of "significant size" in the note to investors.

Shanghai Cable Network is the largest cable TV provider in China, with more than 3.2 million subscribers. The company recently upgraded 1 million of its customers to broadband cable TV network access. With its 1 million such subscribers, the deal with Shanghai is the largest among four that have been recently announced, Bean said.

OpenTV has also signed deals with cable network operators in France, Poland and the Philippines. According to the company, more than 13.9 million digital set-top boxes have been shipped with its software.