Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) proposes to float a joint venture company with Prasar Bharati to provide cable services as part of its diversification into entertainment and information. The company has initiated talks with the broadcasting body and hopes to finalise the deal by the end of this fiscal.
According to industry sources, Prasar Bharati has evinced interest in the project and is keen to partner MTNL. The only thing that remains to be sorted out are the financial details of the proposed venture.
The company had decided on this diversification on account of the huge network of copper wires it had in Mumbai and Delhi. As part of its modernisation, by the end of next fiscal, it would have completed laying the optical fibre cables to replace the copper wires.
It therefore made sense to utilise the network to provide the cable services. If need be, MTNL would also consider using its optical fibre and high-end copper cable distribution systems for the service. This would enable it to offer television signals for both computer and TV sets as also Internet video on demand.
Multimedia services would be offered using the content provided by Prasar Bharati. The company was deploying asymmetric digital subscriber loop (ADSL), a technology that allowed combinations of services including voice, data and one-way full motion video to be compressed and delivered over existing copper cables.
The equipment would allow subscribers to download data at speeds of up to 6 mbps and to upload information at speed of up to 76.8 kbps. The company is also installing asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) switches, which permits switching and transmission of voice, data and video at high speed. The ATM switches can produce video on demand service to consumers in Mumbai and Delhi.
There was likely to be significant demand for the high-speed data services from large corporate, financial, media, public service and educational institutions. However, its success would to a large extent hinge on a good, reliable and efficient subscriber management system, which the company hoped to put in place.