Orange to broadcast Shanghai Expo content in Europe

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The Independent Online

France Telecom's Orange signed a deal Friday to broadcast content from this year's World Expo in Shanghai on phones across Europe, as part of a technology partnership with the Shanghai Media Group.

Orange said it will work with the Shanghai broadcaster's new media unit BesTV to develop Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, and related technology that allows content to be watched on television, computers and mobile phones.

"New Internet and digital technologies have opened an extremely large field of possibilities. The most spectacular allows customers to see the same images on three screens," France Telecom's chairman and CEO Didier Lombard said at a ceremony.

Lombard said the two companies have been working together for more than a year.

One possibility they envision is developing an applications store for IPTV - similar to the iPhone model - while working together to develop standards and equipment, Orange said in a statement.

Lombard said this year's six-month World Expo, which begins on May 1, presented an opportunity to showcase the technology around the world.

BesTV is the exclusive new media partner for this year's Expo, which expects to attract 70 million mostly Chinese visitors.

Shanghai Media Group President Li Ruigang said content to be sent out to Orange clients in Europe would include videos, 3D games and a virtual tour of the Expo site.

France Telecom's most visible presence in China - the world's largest mobile market with 739 million subscribers - is a research centre set up in 2004 with China Telecom, China's biggest fixed-line operator by subscribers.

When asked if France Telecom was looking for investment or joint venture opportunities with Chinese companies, Lombard told AFP: "It is too soon to say."