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Reliance Infocomm readies broadband TV roll out

17-September-2004
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Reliance Infocomm readies broadband TV roll out

Reliance Infocomm Ltd is through with the test runs that were on since late last year, for rolling out its broadband-based TV hook-up with domestic households. That is, provided the last mile linkage can get going, which arguably is being held back on account of certain `external factors' that have nothing to do with the company's readiness, including a stable regulatory framework.

Talking to Business Line, Mr Amit Khanna, Chairman, Reliance Entertainment Pvt Ltd and spokesperson for Reliance Infocomm, said the company is ready for a select city-national launch , though it is too early to put a specific date to the broadband TV initiative. The roll-out could be some time next year, he said. Meanwhile, there isstill nothing firmed up with Microsoft on using the Internet protocol TV (IPTV) solution that the latter is developing.

Some of the global majors that have entered into an arrangement to try out the Microsoft's IPTV solution include Bell (Canada), Swiss Telecom, SBC (US) and Reliance Infocomm. It was in October last that Microsoft Corp and Reliance Infocomm had announced in Redmond (US) that they would work together to jointly create, test and deliver Internet protocol (IP)-based television services using a solution that was being developed by the software giant.

"The test runs on broadband TV for households that we have had in Jamnagar for over six months and in certain parts of Mumbai are over and we are pretty sure of our technology. On the issue of last mile connectivity, affordability would be the key. Just as it would be in the case of the `Choispad' set top boxes. Talks are on with various vendors for manufacturing the set top boxes, based on our designs," Mr Khanna said.

Unlike in some of the developed countries, where the leading telecom service providers are looking at a lateral entry into media services to offset declining revenues from voice calls, Reliance Infocomm is facing no such crisis, he said. The advantage is that the company has no legacy of obsolete technology in the voice segment and it isin a position to converge voice, video and data as per its choice.

"Unlike in the US where the broadband revolution is PC-led, it is going to be TV-led in the rest of the world. This is especially true in the case of Asia where Korea has a head start with its gaming programmes. While one is not sure how it will unfold in China, the only way that India will accept it will be as an entertainment-led product. And there is no way that voice revenues will take a beating in India in the near future — a phenomenon that has been whittling down the revenues of Western telecom companies," Mr Khanna said.

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