Television

Ortel plans to raise Rs 600-700 million

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MUMBAI: Ortel Communications Ltd, the leading multi-system operator (MSO) in Orissa, is scouting for investors to raise Rs 600-700 million to fund its expansion plans which include commercial rollout of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

The company has approached merchant bankers and is even looking at raising funds through a private placement. "We are looking at all options including a mix of equity and debt. Our fund requirement for expansion is Rs 600-700 million," Ortel Communications promoter Jagi Mangat Panda tells indiantelevision.com.

Ortel has recently issued redeemable preference shares to Finlay Corporation Ltd. (FCL), an overseas corporate body incorporated in the Bahamas and its subsidiary, of Rs 44 million with 8.50 per cent dividend per annum for a period of five years. FCL has 16 per cent stake in Ortel, sources say.

While VoIP is a main line of business activity the company wants to enter, other projects designed are digitalisation, expansion to other towns and upgradation to triple play services (voice, data and video).

Ortel has conducted a successful trial of VoIP telephony and plans to launch it commercially. The company also wants to expand operations from seven to 14 locations in Orissa and increase its broadband subscriber base. Ortel has over 180,000 cable TV and 7,000 data services customers.

The company holds a stake of below 25 per cent in Orissa TV which runs a local channel OTV with in-house news and current affairs programming. A second channel focuses on local origin entertainment and selected Hindi movies.

Cable TV service is marketed under the brand name of Skyview Home Cable. Data services are provided under the brand name of Ortel.net. HFC cable networks are designed and constructed with return path capability.

Ortel's main problem is to prop up revenues through value-added services in a state where the average revenue per user (ARPU) is more or less flat. Ortel has built and is operating a hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) broadband communications networks to provide cable TV, high speed internet access and possibly telephony services in future. In cities like Bhubaneswar, it is charging a monthly cable TV subscription fee of around Rs 250.

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