UnitedGlobalCom has announced a number of suppliers for an accelerated rollout of digital television to analogue cable subscribers in the Netherlands.

UGC’s UPC Broadband division expects to begin a major digital deployment in The Netherlands, beginning in the autumn. This will eventually deliver over two million digital set-top boxes with related middleware and content protection systems to accelerate the growth of digital television in the Dutch market.

Suppliers will include Thomson, Pace, Scientific-Atlanta, Philips, OpenTV and the Kudelski Group, which owns Nagravision.

Sudhir Ispahani, chief technology officer for UGC Europe said that UPC Broadband will launch new digital and IP-based services including video on demand, interactive TV and unified messaging.

“After years of preparation and investment, our networks, back-office and operations are now ready for the planned accelerated digital rollout in the Netherlands,” said Gene Musselman, president and chief operating officer for UPC Broadband.

“We are also pleased to see significant improvements in the innovation and performance of the latest products offered by our vendors. The cost curves are coming down, which enables us a large scale approach in satisfying a growing demand with our customers for advanced digital television services.”

UGC will deploy set-top boxes from Thomson and Pace, both of which will include a high-speed EuroDocsis 2.0 cable modem that enables data, including voice and video services, to be delivered over IP-based networks.

OpenTV has also been selected as a technology partner for the deployment. Liberty Media International, the holding company that controls UGC, is a separately traded spin off from Liberty Media Corporation, which controls OpenTV.

“We think this announcement reflects well on the prodigious work we have done over the past six months in getting UGC to a position where it is able to realize, and, in fact, accelerate its digital plans,” said OpenTV chairman and chief executive Jim Chiddix. “We expect UGC to deploy OpenTV’s latest and most advanced middleware platform, Core 2.0, along with our integrated PVR and HTML solutions.”

UGC has indicated that the Dutch digital strategy could be a template for similar moves in other European markets in the future. The need to move is perhaps most pressing in the Netherlands as the result of rival telephone operators that are planning to introduce broadband television services.