Cable TV

IPTV still at seeding stage

MUMBAI: Even as the framework of the digital landscape is being drawn by the various industry stakeholders, the most prepared seem to be cable TV and direct-to-home (DTH) service providers.

Telecom operators who have plans to offer IPTV are grappling with last mile and technology issues at this stage.

IPTV is at the seeding stage and will take 1-2 years for a serious rollout in India, according to Bharti Tele-ventures new technologies head Sriram TV.

"Broadband has just begun. IPTV can be used as one often acquisition tools for increasing broadband penetration," Sriram said while speaking at FICCI-Frames 2006 on TV NexGen.

Though IPTV still lacks large subscriber base across the world, the technology for its mass deployment is in place. Telecom giants like Verizon, British Telecom and SBC are in various stages of deployment.

"IPTV is the horse that we are backing," said Microsoft TV group product manager Hemang Mehta.

Elaborating on the advantages of IPTV, Mehta said the delivery platform had the ability to offer personalised content. Unlike cable TV and direct-to-home (DTH), consumers could select devices rather than be forced to buy set-top boxes (STBs) from the service operators. "The next generation of TV sets will be enabled for IP and broadband. Consumers need not buy the STBs," he pointed out.

On being queried by on whether IPTV STBs were expensive, Mehta said they were available at below $100.

As for big daddy Reliance Infocomm, the bet is on mobile TV around which the digital story will ultimately converge. This was the view expressed by Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney.

Speaking at the session, HTMT executive vice president Ashok Mansukhani said cable TV was well geared to meet the challenge from DTH and IPTV with its digital service. "Cable TV will offer the lowest cost digital platform. It also has the ability to offer over 300 channels," he pointed out.

Zee Group vice chairman Jawahar Goel said new delivery platforms were emerging which would provide choice to consumers.

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