I-Spatial To Ride On BSNL Lines To Offer Broadband Content

Mumbai: | Updated: Nov 7 2003, 05:30am hrs
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has signed a ten-year contract with Bangalore-based I-Spatial to provide broadband content including video-on-demand and interactive gaming on its existing telephone network.

I-Spatial plans to invest Rs 120 crore for setting up server farms, buying content rights, and establishing other networking infrastructure. The company will have access to BSNLs subscribers and telephone network.

According to the agreement, BSNL will be paid a minimum guarantee and take 29 per cent of the revenue attributable to I-Spatial services. I-Spatial will be allowed to provide broadband content under BSNL brand. The total project cost will be Rs 250 crore, said I-Spatial chief operating officer Andrew Pedrazinni.

We have signed a non-exclusive agreement with I-Spatial. The equipment has arrived at Kolkata and Bangalore. We hope to launch the services soon, BSNL chairman and managing director Prithipal Singh said.

The offer of value-added services in bundled packages of video-on-demand, interactive games, Internet access, video conferencing, e-learning and unified messaging services is seen as an effort by BSNL to increase the average revenue per user (ARPU).

I-Spatial will play the role of technology integrator and content aggregator for the whole service bouquet of value-added services.

I-Spatial has tied up with US-based Paradyne to provide last mile solutions for enabling BSNL subscribers to access broadband services through their copper telephone wires. Nortel will supply the core networking equipment. I-Spatial will use UK-based Pace set-top boxes, which will be later manufactured in India. Consumers can have these services both on PC and TV sets. The goal is to align the Indian market with the rapid convergence of broadcasting and broadband telecommunications and open up unexplored revenue streams, said I-Spatial MD Manjunath Jagirdar.

The company plans to have the first rollout in Kolkata, Bangalore and Pune early next year. The testing is already on in Kolkata for the last nine months. It will initially offer limited services of broadband, gaming, audio and video conferencing. TV broadcasting content will be included next in the menu.

The second line of coverage includes cities like Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. BSNL, however, can have franchisee agreement with other players to offer the broadband services.

The price package to the consumer is being finalised along with BSNL, said Mr Pedrazinni. It will be a combination of subscription and on-demand services, he added. BSNL will manage the billing system.

The revenue model will have S-VoD (subscription video-on-demand), N-VoD (near video-on-demand which will have playouts on fixed time bands which people can watch on demand), and T-VOD (transaction or pay-per-view service). The content will have Hindi, international and regional movies, music, soaps and serials, sports, news, interactive gaming, e-learning and niche channels. The driver in entertainment will be on-demand movies, interactive gaming, broadband Internet connectivity and e-learning, said the companys corporate advisor Sujata Dev.