UK cable firm NTL is teaming up with BitTorrent Inc., the company behind the popular file-sharing software, to test a new service that will let users purchase movies and music video downloads.
The trial, which will also include technology from Cambridge, England-based CacheLogic Ltd., comes as BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen works to establish the software as a legitimate means of distributing content.
The free software is currently one of the most popular ways to share pirated TV and movies. BitTorrent traffic is estimated to account for roughly a third of all Internet bandwidth, and an even higher proportion on NTL's network.
Cohen started BitTorrent Inc. last year -- well after the software had become a hit with Internet users -- and his company has entered talks with Hollywood and Internet service providers to find ways to use the peer-to-peer software to distribute legal, paid downloads.
"We're working with rightsholders and ISPs because we view ourselves at the center of a lot of the activity going on here," said BitTorrent Inc. Chief Operating Officer Ashwin Navin.
"Each country has a different dynamic around P2P, but I'd say Europe is slightly more progressive than the U.S.," he added. "There's been a lot of banter about video over the Internet this year, but for BitTorrent it's a few years old."
In November, the company struck a deal with the Motion Picture Association of America to remove copyrighted material from the BitTorrent.com search engine.
NTL said the trial was due to begin next month and would initially involve less than 100 homes.
BitTorrent's enormous use of bandwidth has been expensive for some Internet providers. In the trial, CacheLogic will store frequently downloaded files within the NTL network, speeding up downloads and reducing expensive interconnect charges.