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Oracle in digital TV joint venture

Oracle says it has completed a joint venture with British Telecom and other communications giants to establish a digital interactive television channel in the United Kingdom.

    Oracle today said it completed a joint venture in England with British Telecom and other European communications giants to establish a digital interactive television channel.

    Launched in October, Open Interactive allows 1.8 million subscribers to purchase goods, play games and send email using their remote control handsets and is projected to become one of the biggest vehicles for e-commerce in the United Kingdom.

    Open Interactive is a joint venture among BSkyB, BT, HSBC and Matsushita. The first three companies are based in the United Kingdom; Matsushita is based in Japan. The venture uses software from Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle, including the Oracle8 database, Oracle Application Server and Oracle Video Server. The project is the largest e-commerce implementation ever undertaken by Oracle Consulting in Europe, the company said.

    GartnerGroup estimates that by 2003, digital TV penetration will reach 47 percent in the United Kingdom, 40 percent in France and at least 25 percent in Germany.

    "If consumers are to adopt this service it has to be available to them every time they turn on the TV," Alec Livingstone, technical director at Open Interactive, said in a statement. "This is already a high profile service for consumers and the platform that we have developed with Oracle has to be able support the massive traffic that we expect to see in the coming months and years--it has to be totally mission critical in every sense of the term."