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Monday, February 06, 2012, 06:30 pm PT (09:30 pm ET)

Rogers, BCE rumored to already have Apple 'iTV' prototype in their labs

A new report claims Canadian telecoms Rogers and Bell Canada have an early version of a much-rumored Apple television set in their labs and are in negotiations with the company to enter into a partnership for the device.

An anonymous source disclosed to The Globe and Mail that both Rogers and Bell "already have the product in their labs," the newspaper reported on Monday.

Another source familiar with the negotiations said Apple is open to working with multiple companies for its connected TV project, which some have dubbed the "iTV." The tipster indicated that Rogers and Bell had been approached by Apple during its search for partners.

“They’re not closed to doing it with one [company] or doing it with two,” the source said. “They’re looking for a partner. They’re looking for someone with wireless and broadband capabilities.”

All of the companies involved declined to comment when contacted by the publication. Both Rogers and Bell already have an existing agreement with Apple to offer its iPhone device on their wireless networks.

The report characterized Apple's TV project as a "large-screen iPad" for living rooms, adding that the Siri voice-recognition assistant that debuted in the iPhone 4S will likely make its way into the rumored television. It also mentioned the use of "hand gestures" to control the device, though it didn't go into further detail on what exactly that would entail.

Insider tips that Rogers and Bell have working prototypes of the Apple television come quickly on the heels of an analyst report that specifically mentioned the two companies as likely to be on board with the project. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said on Monday that Apple's best option may be to cooperate with existing cable operators.

“We believe it is likely to be offered by AT&T and Verizon in the U.S. and Bell and Rogers in Canada,” Misek said.

The as-yet-unconfirmed Apple television project also recently made headlines when it was revealed that Best Buy made mention in a recent survey of a "concept" 42-inch iOS-powered TV from Apple. The questionnaire said the device "finally reinvents what a TV can do" and suggested it would be priced at $1,499, support iCloud, feature remote control via iPad or iPhone, and sport an "iSight" camera and microphone.