Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications has tied up with Microsoft, the world's largest software company, to offer Internet TV services. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a technology that allows you to watch television on computers and mobile phones.
The IPTV service will be rolled out first in Mumbai and Delhi and will subsequently be beamed across 30 cities by the end of March 2008. This is the only exclusive partnership that Microsoft has entered into in India. It provides IPTV software to AT&T in the US and Deutsche Telekom in Germany. The size of the contract is estimated to be $500 million.
With this service consumers will be able to watch television, record programmes and share their experiences with their friends by using Reliance's set-top box, with an Internet connection. The television content, Reliance Communications says, will be offered in standard definition and high definition (HD) formats. Currently, television viewing through cable is standard content. "Until now, television has been a one-size-fits-all experience and we aim to offer our subscribers more choice, control and convenience," said Anil Ambani, chairman, Reliance Communications.
<b1>IPTV offers features such as video-on-demand, digital video recording and HD content that can be watched on a TV or a PC. "By connecting the TV to an interactive two-way network and adding advanced software, Indian users will get access to personalised and rich viewing experiences," said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft.
While the cost of this service is yet to be finalised Reliance Communications has bigger plans for its IPTV rollout. Replicating its success in telecom, Ambani said IPTV would be taken to rural India and the company was talking to state governments to collaborate with them for this initiative.
Reliance will start the process of wiring up buildings with its fibre optic network and is eying the 500 million Indian mobile user base, according to industry analysts.
Hindustan Times had reported on Saturday that Reliance Communications was understood to have tied up with Microsoft for an IPTV rollout.