According to a Kolkata-based senior AIR engineer, Prasar Bharati has invited global bids from Internet facility providers to upgrade AIRs Internet service to a multi-channel, multi-lingual Internet radio station providing streaming audio.
Our planning and development cell has already invited commercial bids for the overhaul of AIR. With the private sector hogging the airwaves through frequency modulation (FM) channels, the government seems to be gearing up to face competition by providing multi-lingual streaming audio, the AIR engineer says.
The ambitious AIR is also intends to extend its digital service to Europe. It is negotiating with WorldSpace, which would sell the service in the continent. For this to happen, AIR will have to hire greater space on AfriStar.
According to the AIR engineer, WorldSpace has through a market survey put the price of the service tentatively at $10 a month.
The proposal is still in a nascent stage, but officials do not foresee any difficulty in the pay service being cleared, since it would mean a commercial or revenue sharing arrangement between WorldSpace and AIR. Both are expected to welcome it, he says.
The AIR signal, at present, is available only on one beam of AfriStar and two of AsiaStar. Once AIR gets another beam of AfriStar, the service will be available in the continent.
As for the US region, AIR has plans to get on AmeriStar at a later stage.