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Canada's Telus Pipes IPTV To Microsoft Xbox 360s

Canadian telco Telus is letting subscribers of its new Optik TV service use a Microsoft Xbox 360 game console as a secondary set-top box, more than three years after the software giant first showed off the concept.

AT&T, which also uses the Microsoft Mediaroom IPTV middleware, has promised to let U-verse TV subscribers access the service using an Xbox 360 client sometime this year. Microsoft touted the capability as far back as January 2007, in a demo at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Vancouver-based Telus, Canada's second-biggest phone company after Bell Canada, in June launched the Optik TV service, which is delivered over a fiber-to-the-node network. The telco deployed Microsoft Mediaroom in February.

Optik TV subscribers must have an HD DVR from the telco -- supplied by Cisco Systems -- to use the Xbox 360 option, according to Telus spokeswoman A.J. Gratton. In addition, a Telus technician must visit a customer's home to install the required software and configure each Xbox 360 for the service.

Once the Xbox 360 is configured for the service, Optik TV customers can use the game console to watch more than 400 digital channels of live TV; access recorded shows and schedule recordings on a separate DVR; and pause a recorded program in one room and pick it up from the same spot in a different room.

Telus serves 200,000 IPTV and satellite TV customers. Overall, it has 11.9 million overall customer connections including 6.6 million wireless subscribers, 3.9 million wireline network access lines and 1.2 million Internet subscribers.

"We are blazing a trail as the first provider in North America to offer this innovative capability with Xbox 360 and Optik TV," Telus chief marketing officer David Fuller said in a statement. "The integration of the Optik TV service, powered by Microsoft Mediaroom, with the Xbox 360 will deliver increased flexibility and enhance our customers' entertainment experience."

Telus is currently offering a free Xbox 360 console to customers who subscribe to high-speed Internet with a two-year contract.

According to Microsoft, 25 operators worldwide use Mediaroom to deliver IPTV to almost 5 million households. AT&T's U-verse TV accounts for more than half that, with 2.5 million subscribers as of the end of June.