Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) is aiming to carve a niche in pumping television content through its broadband connections with the aim of reaching 50,000 subscribers in about 18 months. It will be aided by interactivity and an advertisement model dubbed A Tube.
IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) were launched last July. Subscribers now number less than 1,000 for MTNL, but the company is hoping for a high conversion rate as broadband connections grow to a target of 500,000 each in Mumbai and Delhi, chairman and Managing director RP Sinha told Hindustan Times.
Currently, MTNL has 225,000 broadband lines out of a total of 4.5 million fixed line subscribers in the two cities.
“We have 1,000 connections getting done per day in broadband so IPTV takeoff will be faster,” Sinha said. Broadband refers to anything above a speed of 64 kbps (kilo bits per second). To enable transport of high-density video content, MTNL is using compression technologies that can zip as much as 3 megabits per second.
Currently, a subscriber has to pay a lifetime payment of Rs 3,500 for a set-top box, and a monthly rental of 120 rupees for 52 channels in Delhi. Some 100 channels are expected in a month’s time.
“In 18 months as we reach 50,000 subscribers, set-top boxes may be free and monthly subscription may undergo a change,” said Kailash Choudhary, managing director of Aksh Optifibres, the partner company that arranges the content for MTNL.
MTNL has increased the accessibility of IPTV in a 3 km radius from each telephone exchange, from the initial 800 metres each, and plans to start rolling out within eight weeks fibre optic cables that will reach 20 km from the nearest exchange.
MTNL has invested $120 per subscriber to enable the IPTV service, and is betting on instant interactivity to view desired programmes and convenience of viewing to be the distinguishing features.