MTNL pips rivals to IPTV, launch slated for Oct

Mumbai, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
The much-touted IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) is likely to be first launched by state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) rather than private operators such as Reliance Communications, which have also been pursuing it aggressively. MTNL Mumbai executive director M S Rana said the commercial launch for the service was slated for October with the outside limit for the launch being December.

In Delhi, MTNL has been testing the service since the last 12 months and in Mumbai, for the last two months. Through IPTV, the operator will offer a bouquet of television channels and video-on-demand. Tariffs are yet to be decided but are likely to be similar to what is offered by cable operators, officials said.

Though, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has not drawn the regulatory regime for IPTV as yet, the government has allowed unified access service licencees to provide the services. Since MTNL does not have a UASL (It has a cellular and basic licence) it has sought permission from the government to provide the services. Officials said that once Trai finalises the regulatory regime with regard to pricing and quality of services etc, the service providers will have to abide by the new regulations.

The service can be accessed by its broadband customers. MTNLs broadband services, marketed under the Tri-band name, allows subscribers to make and receive phone calls, browse the internet and use IPTV simultaneously. For IPTV, subscribers will need a set-top box that connects to the TV on one end and the MTNL line on the other. The set-top box will be available on a monthly rental basis.

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Testing the service since the last 12 months
For last two months
Not decided
Bouquet of television channels and video-on-demand

The operator also announced the launch of a gaming-on-demand (GOD) service for its broadband customers through a tie-up with popular gaming firm, Indiagames Ltd, in Mumbai. The tie-up, announced on Wednesday, allows subscribers to access a number of popular games through a flat monthly fee. The fee is Rs 150 for the Casual Plan and Rs 300 for the Premium Plan, which gives access to premium games in addition to those available with the Casual Plan.

There will be no additional fee for data transfer during the game downloads, multiplayer compatible games, automatic patching and security, Rana said.

The games will available for a free four-day trial period if customers want to try them out before taking a monthly subscription, he added.