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PlanetWeb signs set-top deal

PlanetWeb and Zilog join forces to develop consumer set-top boxes for surfing the Net.

Zilog (ZLG) and PlanetWeb are joining forces to develop consumer set-top boxes for surfing the Net.

Zilog, which makes semiconductors used in televisions and other equipment, and PlanetWeb, a maker of Web software, today announced a strategic partnership that will combine PlanetWeb's browsing and messaging software with Zilog's chipsets for developing set-top boxes for surfing the Web through any standard television.

PlanetWeb already provides its browser software to Sega of America. The company said it is developing other software, such as Internet-enabling software for TV video phones.

Set-top boxes are being developed by companies including Diba, IBM, and Thomson Consumer Electronics, despite what has so far been sluggish consumer interest.

The boxes will let consumers pick their Internet service provider, the company said. Several competitive plans link consumers to the Net via local cable television operators.

The companies will demonstrate the new boxes at the Consumer Electronics Show set for Atlanta in the first week of June. They plan a commercial roll out in the fall to take advantage of the Christmas consumer buying season.

While pricing has not yet been set, a Zilog spokeswoman said the boxes will cost under the $200, which would make them competitive with other set-top devices.