landed in Delhi. Telecom major MTNL and Aksh Optifibre Ltd have commercially launched India's first Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service in New Delhi. This service will be offered at a minimum cost of Rs 90 per month to MTNL broadband subscribers.
Simply put, IPTV is watching TV using Internet protocol, which offers additional interactivity to normal TV. It is touted as the way forward for TV globally. However, its adoption in India has been slow thus far, with only IOL Broadband (in association with MTNL) offering the service in Mumbai. Other players like Bharti and Reliance are also working on this platform.
Currently, the service is offering 52 channels, including free-to-air and paid channels. Over the next couple of months, the number of channels available will increase to 150. As far as pricing goes, it's Rs 60 per month for free-to-air channels, and Rs 30 for 100 movies under Video on Demand. While some pay channels are free for now, MTNL is looking at Rs 5 per month per pay channel as the general norm.
Using the MTNL-Aksh IPTV Service, a subscriber can choose and subscribe to individual pay channels from the bouquet of channels available in the service and start watching them immediately. There is a time-based facility called Time Shifted TV, which enables subscribers to rewind programmes on a live broadcast channel up to a full week. Using the Video on Demand facility, users can view more than 100 Hindi and English movies, plays and soaps in Hindi, Marathi, Bangla and Punjabi.
Advertisers, too, have reason to cheer for IPTV. A unique feature called A-Tube allows advertisers to upload full-length campaigns, product AVs and detailed trailers without the limitation of prescribing to 10-20-30 second formats. For viewers planning to purchase a mobile phone, for example, the A-Tube portal will host detailed campaigns and AVs of every possible brand and model.
Aksh Optifibre Ltd is taking care of the venture's software, hardware, service set-up and content delivery. MTNL will function as the service provider, taking charge of operations and revenue collection. Another partner in the service is UTStarcom, which is involved in the manufacture, integration and support of IP-based telecommunication solutions and providing broadband digital TV delivery solution for the service.