MTNL to invest Rs 4 billion for broadband platform, Ericsson wins bid as systems integrator

MUMBAI: Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. is getting ready to play the triple game - video streaming, voice services and high-speed Internet access.

The state-run organisation has selected multinational giant Ericsson as the systems integrator to build the platform, while rejecting seven other bidders including Alcatel, UTStarcom and HFCL.

MTNL plans to invest Rs 4 billion over the next one year as it targets 14 lakh broadband customers in Mumbai and Delhi. In the first phase, the company will invest Rs 1 billion within six months. "We are targeting 2 lakh ports each in Mumbai and Delhi within six months. We expect to launch our service by December-end or mid-January," says MTNL executive director, Mumbai, RL Dube.

For the second phase, MTNL will pump in Rs 3 billion and install 1 million ports. "The pipe will be ready. We will offer high-speed Internet on our own. For content, we will have a franchisee model," says Dube.

Ericsson quoted the lowest cost in a tender floated by MTNL. "We decided on Ericsson two weeks back. The other bidders were quoting higher. ITI Ltd. participated along with Alcatel but we rejected them on technical grounds as they were offering old models," says Dube.

Unlike state-owned BSNL which went for the franchisee model, MTNL opted to directly invest in building the systems platform for triple play. BSNL had selected Bangalore-based I-Spatial to provide broadband services on its network. The experiment has not been successful and I-Spatial's investments are locked.

"We are in a position to spend money ourselves. The investment required is not huge. Besides, the franchisee model is not working," says Dube.

MTNL plans to provide a wide range of broadband services using its copper loop network. Several other telecom operators have also announced their plans to foray into triple play.

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