Bharti plans IPTV launch, UTStarcom the technology partner

MUMBAI: Sunil Mittal has serious ambitions of entering the triple play arena. Having built a strong mobile phone business, he is quietly working on a project that would enable Bharti to offer video content through its telephone lines.

Bharti has installed a digital headend in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi. The test run is on with a clutch of free-to-air (FTA) TV channels and other video content. 

UTStarcom is building the entire IPTV architecture for Bharti. This includes the headend and the digital set-top boxes (STBs). "UTStarcom is the digital service vendor for Bharti's IPTV. The set-top box will be two-way enabled," says an industry source.

UTStarcom is a global company engaged in the manufacture, integration and support of IP-based, end-to-end networking and telecommunications solutions. It sells converged broadband wireless and wireline products, an integrated IPTV solution, and a comprehensive line of handset and customer premise equipment to operators in both emerging and established telecommunications markets worldwide.

Bharti has approximately 500000 fixed telephone retail customers. It wants to ride video content through its copper network. "Most of Bharti's current presence in fixed line telephony is in National Capital Region (NCR), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Haryana. The company will be initially targeting these markets," says the source. 

Bharti is working on an offering of 100 TV channels. "The company is creating the network transmission capacity for IPTV. It will be using ADSL 2 and ADSL 2+ technology," says the source.

When does Bharti plan to commercially launch its IPTV service? "It will take at least six months," says the source. The company is in talks with the broadcasters and other issues have to be tied up, he added.

Major telecom companies like Reliance Infocomm and VSNL are planning to offer IPTV services. The union minister for communications and information technology Dayanidhi Maran recently said that the government has asked MTNL and BSNL to ride on IPTV.

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