TV via Microsoft: Swiss have it; should we?

Telecommunications companies are turning to Microsoft to help them get into video. Finally, a way to combat cable?

Microsoft and Swiss telecommunications company Swisscom are starting a trial, offering TV service over DSL lines, according to Reuters. It only takes 1.2 megabits per second to 1.4mbps to provide a good signal, the companies say--well within the range offered by most DSL providers in the United States today--but a little more than what most customers get in Europe.

Microsoft is also testing the service with Bell Canada, and SBC Communications has said it will try out the technology. It's part of telephone companies' long-standing (and as yet unsuccessful) drive to match cable companies' range of ordinary TV services.

The 15-year-old rivalry is turning desperate now, since cable companies can offer phone calls, but phone companies are still struggling with video. Microsoft's video compression may help them get over that hump, at last.

Still, imagine that blue screen of death, just as Tony Soprano was getting ready to whack someone...