MTNL, BSNL to kick-off IPTV from Mumbai, Chennai

MUMBAI: The first roll out of cable TV through telephone lines will be in Mumbai and Chennai soon. That is, if union information technology and communications minister Dayanidhi Maran's words turn true.

"MTNL and BSNL have already been asked to ride on IPTV. Mumbai and Chennai will be the first cities to start it soon," Maran said, while addressing the press here today at the Digital Summit 2005-06, organised by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

It may be recalled that MTNL has pumped in money to deploy a networking platform developed by Ericsson. But it is yet to develop the content delivery platform (CDN) through which it can drive video content. BSNL has also not been able to offer IPTV, despite appointing I-Spatial as a franchisee to launch operations in Bangalore. The experiment failed to mature into a commercial launch and BSNL is working out plans on how to set the process forward for IPTV.

Speaking on the need for developing an Indian language translation browser, Maran said the government has asked the department of information technology (DIT) and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) to work together. "It will probably take us 2-3 years to develop this. We have started preliminary work," he said.

The government expects to come out with speedier and cheaper servers to host websites from India. "By June, we hope to come out with our own server farms. This will make it cheaper for websites to host from India as they don't have to consume international bandwidth which is costly," Maran said.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the progress of broadband in the country. "It is 367 days since we launched our broadband drive. BSNL and MTNL have a total of 400,000 broadband connections," the minister said. This is despite prices having fallen from Rs 3,000 per connectivity in 2004 to Rs 500 in 2005 and Rs 199 now.

The mobile sector, in contrast, has seen exponential growth. The boom is because there is more transparency in this sector while "there is still haze" in broadband tariffs. Content will also have to be beefed up, he added.

The government is creating an information highway of state-wide area network and has made an allocation of Rs 33 billion. "We are setting up 100,000 kiosks," Maran said.

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