US internet software maker Oracle and French telecoms company Alcatel have joined forces to offer interactive television via existing phone lines.

The joint venture, Thirdspace, intends to provide home shopping, video-on-demand and internet services, in a bid to compete with existing satellite and cable operators. Talks are already underway with media companies about content.

Alcatel and Oracle are thought to be pumping £100 million between them into Thirdspace. Although they will be majority shareholders, there will be provision for other telecoms companies or content providers to acquire stakes.

Thirdspace chief executive Brian Keating predicted a “full-blown commercial roll-out” within a year and a flotation within two. There are also plans to expand into the UK, the USA, Japan and Germany.

However, observers believe that the service will need the unbundling of local telephone networks to take off.

News source: Financial Times