Networking and telecommunications giants Cisco Systems and AT&T are among those investing $15.5 million in Akimbo, a venture capital backed company that provides video-on-demand services over the open internet.

It is the third funding round in the company, which was launched with $4 million in seed funding in 2003, followed by a further investment of $12 million.

Akimbo describes its products and services as the first fully function marriage of television and the internet, available through a dedicated Akimbo Player set-top box or a Media Center PC.

The subscription service includes more than 10,000 videos and movies from around 200 mainstream and niche programming partners.

Akimbo will also be available to subscribers of the AT&T Homezone service, due to launch later in the summer, offering access to video programmes and voices through an integrated set-top box and AT&T Yahoo! high speed internet connection, with satellite television programming delivered in partnership with the EchoStar Dish Network.

In the Autumn, Akimbo and Thomson will launch the RCA Akimbo Player, with recent release movies from Movielink.

“These new investors position us perfectly for the future,” said Joshua Goldman, the chief executive of Akimbo. “Cisco and AT&T are emerging as two of the most innovative companies in the world in terms of creating new ways for video to reach consumers. Their strategic insight and extensive resources will help bring Akimbo’s content and service into millions of homes on a variety of devices. Adding these world-class strategic investors to our top-tier financial investors gives Akimbo an incredible boost for the next phase of our growth.”

The investment in Akimbo is comparatively small in comparison to the billions of dollars AT&T faces in delivering IPTV services to consumers over its own networks, but the involvement of companies like Cisco and AT&T lends considerable credibility to the delivery of video services over the open internet.