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Etisalat invests in convergence

Etisalat has taken a 16.6% stake in France-based convergence company Soft At Home as it looks to boost its range of digital entertainment offerings.

Etisalat has taken a 16.6% stake in France-based convergence company Soft At Home as it looks to boost its range of digital entertainment offerings.

Soft At Home was created by French telecom giant Orange, Thomson and Sagem in order to provide a software platform for all operators to deploy converged applications at home.

"The reason that Etisalat decided to [take a 16.6% share] is so that they can control the roadmap of the company. Etisalat is a very progressive company," says Frederic Bonnard, Soft At Home's Vice President Marketing.

Soft At Home provides the software on the box and the middleware in the box to enable a range of applications for use by consumers in the home.

Soft At Home develops some applications itself, but it also enables outside parties to create their own. The software development kit is available for would-be developers to download from Soft At Home's website.

"In the past, we had a closed ecosystem, but we are changing the rules. We are bringing innovation in this platform and the idea is to open the platform," Bonnard says.

Bonnard says that so far, the firm has 25 partners developing new applications, with the majority of them from the television sector.

"Our focus on the Middle East is to leverage the Etisalat deal. This is the beginning, but we see a very strong interest in the innovation side of the platform," Bonnard says.

Orange holds just over 50% of the firm, with the rest split between Sagem, Thomson and new partner Etisalat.

Soft At Home is showcasing its products and services at the telco's stand in Zabeel Hall.

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