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Pallavi Srivastava        Print Edition: December 16, 2007

This is one platform that keeps showing signs of resurrection every few months. Reliance Communications (R-Comm) recently signed an agreement (worth $500 million) with Microsoft to deliver IPTV in India on the Microsoft Mediaroom Platform. The deal will give R-Comm the exclusive deployment right for the Microsoft platform in India.

The company’s IPTV service, to be launched by March 2008, will allow Microsoft to deliver two-way personalised TV experiences to consumers with several advanced features like video on demand (VOD), digital video recording (DVR), instant channel changing, and personal media sharing.

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While the partnership does stand out as a landmark deal, the IPTV market in India is still at a nascent stage. Growth is in dribs and drabs because of challenges like poor broadband penetration, expensive set-top boxes and connectivity problems. Added to that is the problem of local loop unbundling (a regulatory process to allow multiple operators to connect to the consumer).

Global IT market research and analysis major IDC, which had made a forecast of over 49,000 IPTV subscribers in India by end-2007 and 966,000 subscribers by 2011, isn’t sounding that optimistic. In a new report, IDC declares that “low-quality bandwidth and poor penetration of broadband could result in slow uptake of the service in India.”

Currently, IPTV in India offers the usual pay channels and videoon-demand that allow for watching a movie without any commercial breaks, and at the time of your choice.

This service is also available with DTH (Direct-to-Home), which is a competitor to IPTV. BSNL and MTNL have already launched ‘Triple Play’ (IPTV) in several circles and Bharti Airtel and Videsh Sanchar Nigam (to be re-named Tata Communications) are also planning to provide the service by end of the current financial year.

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