IPTV and video-on-demand comes to India
IPTV is coming to the Indian market. All the basic services operators, looking for new revenue sources to compensate after the rise and rise of mobiles, are trying out the technology. And the two incumbents, BSNL and MTNL, are keen on generating new revenue streams from their costly local loop assets.
Using fiber-to-the-premises to deliver IPTV is being tried by some operators.
Besides, advances in technology have made running video over copper local loops more of a practical proposition.
New video-compression technologies like MPEG4 AVC promise to squeeze commercial high-quality video into modest bandwidths of around 1 Mbit/s - very DSL friendly.
Another technology is a combination of Ethernet and IP to transport video across the core networks that feed the DSL or fiber periphery. This enables hugely cost-effective core bandwidth scaleability, which is essential to commercializing video-on-demand.
Software like MS Windows media server, and IP TV equipment brought out by the likes of Cisco, UT Starcom et al., are also part of the building blocks that are bringing the concept to reality.
But the market for TV and video in India is not exactly empty. There is the huge cable and satellite TV infrastructure (with nearly 50 million subscribers) to contend with. The private telcos are working out business models, with their content providers and equipment/software partners, to penetrate the market. The incumbents have chosen the franchising route, looking at the franchisee as a 'strategic partner' to market the concept and organize supply.
In East Asia, the government's cyber initiatives, as well as TV-over-DSL, gaming, adult content, music and gambling were the key drivers of broadband. It is to be seen if this mix works for India.
The success of IP TV in India will critically depend on the unique value proposition it offers relative to the existing cable TV fare; on successful implementation of last mile strategies; and on successfully ironing out bugs in the new technology, as well as support services like billing.