MTNL in IPTV deals with Aksh Optifibre, IOL Broadband

MUMBAI: Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has signed content delivery network affiliation contracts with Aksh Optifibre Ltd and IOL Broadband Ltd, which would allow the state-owned telecom major to offer IPTV services to its subscribers.

With this, MTNL has selected three franchisees for developing the content delivery platform. Time Broadband Services Pvt Ltd, India (TBSPL) was the first to have won the contract for both Delhi and Mumbai and has a seven-year non exclusive deal with MTNL.

While MTNL has ensured a bank guarantee of Rs 5 million from Aksh Optifibre, IOL Broadband has guaranteed Rs 2.5 million. Aksh Optifibre has expressed intent to operate in Delhi and Mumbai while IOL's interest is restricted to Mumbai at this stage.

IOL Broadband plans to use US-based SeaChange for the IP video servers, storage and middleware, says a senior company executive. The digital set-top boxes (STBs) will be provided by UK-based Amino while the digital rights management solution will be from US-based Widevine.

"We plan to invest $25 million in the early phase of the project. We have also an eye on extending to Delhi," says the executive.

Aksh Optifibre plans to use UTStarcom technology for its content delivery network, an MTNL official says. Bharti, which is conducting test runs in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi with multiple vendors, had also used UTStarcom technology, including the headend and the digital STBs.

"The idea of having multiple franchisees is to provide content flexibility to our subscribers," says the MTNL official.

Time Broadband, meanwhile, has tested 560 STBs and is ready for commercial launch. Says TBSPL managing director Sujata Dev, "We have already deployed 150 STBs in the subscriber homes. We are increasing the number of channels from 30 to 100 on the test run by the end of this month. Star and Zee have agreed to offer the pay channels for this as our content protection system in place."

Time Broadband, which has US-based Kasenna as its middleware vendor, while Verimatrix Inc is providing content protection solutions, has so far invested $3 million in the project.

MTNL is employing ADSL 2+ technology for running its IPTV services. For the video part, the telecom giant will be using MPEG-4 compression technology.

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