Alcatel and the Shanghai Media Group have set up a joint lab to drive the commercialisation of internet protocol television services in China.

The lab is part of the Alcatel IPTV Solution Center for the Asia Pacific region established in April, managed by Alcatel Shanghai Bell, which is equally owned by Alcatel and Chinese shareholders.

It will provide a complete network environment for developing, validating and testing IPTV services, integrating broadcast content and head-end equipment form SMG with delivery systems from Alcatel.

A joint team of experts from both companies will work together to develop solutions around digital rights management, broadcast control, content integration and service management, tailored to the needs of Chinese service providers.

The joint team will also carry out in-depth studies on various business cases for IPTV so that comprehensive consulting services can be provided to help operators launch profitable IPTV services.

“Operators all over the world are either offering video services – or actively investigating their deployment – in addition to their voice and data services. China sees exponential growth in the number of broadband users, creating profitable opportunities for operators to go into the IPTV business,” said Michel Rahier, who is in charge of Alcatel’s global fixed communications activities.

“As the world leader in broadband access, Alcatel is committed to working closely with different players in the IPTV ecosystem to create a favourable environment for operators to deliver user-centric broadband services.”

Alcatel and SMG signed a strategic partnership agreement in June 2004, pledging extensive cooperation in broadband access and mobile video. The establishment of the IPTV lab represents a major and concrete step in the further cooperation between the two companies.

Worldwide, Alcatel has been involved with more than 25 IPTV projects, and of over two million IPTV subscribers around the world, approximately 70% use Alcatel-provided networks.

In May, Shanghai Media Group, China’s second largest media group, after China Central Television, was awarded the first licence to operate an IPTV service in China.

Intel is also partnering with SMG to develop solutions for broadband media delivery.

“IPTV deployments will drive the broadband industry of the future,” said Li Ruigang, president of SMG. “With the recent award of China’s first IPTV license to SMG by the Chinese government, we have complete confidence in bringing innovative content services to end users through our partnerships.”