Reliance Communications (RCom) is close to rolling out Internet protocol television (IPTV) services in the country in association with Microsoft. The companies have been working on the project since 2003.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is flying into the city on Sunday night, and RCom Chairman Anil Ambani are expected to make a joint announcement on Monday, according to sources close to the development.
India is expected to have one million IPTV subscribers by 2011, according to A S Oberoi, director, India On-line. India On-line is a platform provider for MTNL and BSNL.
Ambani had reiterated in the latest analysts’ meeting that the company would roll out its IPTV initiative by year-end. When contacted, a spokesperson from RCom declined to comment.
IPTV provides for two-way interactive communication. It allows consumers to watch TV while using the telephone line and broadband Internet connection. The commercial launch of the service is the only thing that remains, the sources said.
Telecom companies in the country are banking on IPTV services to increase revenues, with state-owned firms such as Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) already announcing plans.
Private players such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, apart from RCom, too, have announced their IPTV forays. BSNL launched its IPTV service in Pune this March, but could attract only 400 subscribers so far.
MTNL, too, has managed a little over 1,000 subscribers till date. It, however, hopes to rope in about 40,000 of its existing broadband customers (about 3 lakh) for IPTV.
RCom is also expected to sign a licensing agreement with Microsoft for managed services, which is the practice of transferring day-to-day management responsibility to a service provider.
Microsoft has recently emerged as a serious player in the area of managed services with Windows Live and Office Live software as service platforms.
Flag Telecom, RCom’s undersea cable subsidiary, recently entered into a three-year agreement with US-based GlassHouse Technologies to provide fully-managed remote storage services.
The bilateral agreement gels with Flag’s next generation IP-enabled connectivity infrastructure of 165,000 km optic fibre cable and GlassHouse’s expertise and infrastructure to offer world-class storage services. Over 200 Flag customers are expected to benefit from the tie up.
Flag’s customers include service providers, content providers and channel partners. RCom also recently acquired US-based Yipes Holdings – a leading provider of managed Ethernet services – for around Rs 1,200 crore ($300 million).
Incidentally, Ballmer will also address a CEO roundtable that will see presence of top business honchos in the country, including Tata Consultancy Services CEO S Ramadorai, Infosys Technologies Managing Director and CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan, Satyam Computer Services Chairman B Ramalinga Raju and Norwest Venture Partner Managing Partner Promod Haque among others.