Verizon is selecting Microsoft TV as the software provider for its new FiOS TV television and video service.

The news consolidates Microsoft’s emerging success in this sector, having previously announced deals with SBC and BellSouth. In just three months the software company has apparently broken more ground with telecom operators than in the previous decade of investment in the cable industry.

The ‘Baby Bells’ are planning to invest billions of dollars to provide television services over their data networks, using video and broadband access to draw customers from competing cable companies which are also offering telephone services.

“This agreement with Verizon is another significant example that some of the world’s largest network operators are choosing Microsoft TV as the software platform for their digital TV and digital home services,” said Moshe Lichtman, corporate vice president of the Microsoft TV division at Microsoft.

The Microsoft TV platform will initially be used to provide an interactive program guide, high-definition television, digital video recording and video-on-demand for Verizon’s FiOS TV service, which is due to launch in mid 2005.

“The Microsoft TV platform not only provides us with advanced digital TV capabilities but it gives us virtually unlimited potential to evolve our interactive services into the most seamlessly integrated offering in the industry,” said Bob Ingalls of Verizon. “Microsoft understands IP and the possibilities of two-way broadband connectivity like no one else in the television software business. We believe they are best positioned to help us leverage the bandwidth that FiOS will bring to the home.”

Interestingly, Verizon has an internet protocol infrastructure, but will initially use conventional broadcast cable architecture down to a Motorola set-top box, using MPEG4 encoding. An IPTV solution will apparently follow.

In a separate development, Verizon has also backed the Microsoft Windows Media format to deliver its 3G wireless broadband multimedia service. “We are excited that Verizon Wireless chose Windows Media to power V CAST, which sets the standard for wireless multimedia services in the United States,” said Amir Majidimehr, who is responsible for the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “The advent of this dynamic service highlights Microsoft’s leadership and commitment in providing its partners with the best technologies for audio and video playback over wireless networks.”