Microsoft has rescued UK cable company NTL, in a move to speed-up interactive cable and Web TV services.
The software giant has pumped $500 million (#302 million) into the cable company to build a Windows platform upon which it can deliver its services.
Due to its late entry into the cable TV market, NTL grabbed every technology available and cobbled them together, according to analyst Simon Weedon of Deutsche Bank.
"NTL has botched together several offerings without a clear idea of the technology or where it's going," he said. Microsoft's investment should remedy that.
NTL's interactive services include an analogue Web TV service, a cable modem service for Internet access and a digital TV platform. The company has technology partnerships with many hardware and software vendors to offer these services. However, the difficulty has been to assimilate such a wide group of technologies.
Microsoft told PC Week it would combine all these technologies on a single platform, but refused to give details.
With Microsoft's help, NTL could offer Web TV, Internet access and telecoms in one package. Alan Pyne, analyst at telecoms consultancy Schema, noted: "This will provide NTL with a way of differentiating itself from the likes of BT and Sky as, so far, no one bundles all three services in one offering."
The deal provides Microsoft with access to 1.4 million UK telephone, cable and Internet customers with the potential of 5.6 million as NTL rolls out its digital cable services this year.
Microsoft also took a $300 million (#182 million) stake in Dutch cable company UPC last week.
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