TBSL launches world’s first mobile bouquet
Time Broadband Services Pvt signed up with BSNL/MTNL to roll out IPTV :boat:
With the recent issuance of guidelines to IPTV, smile seems to have returned on the faces of content providers. Similar is the case with Time Broadband Services Pvt. Ltd (TBSL). Amit Dev, Director (operations), TBSL in conversation

Despite telecom majors like Reliance, Bharti and Tatas showing an interest in it for the last few years, why has an IPTV roll out not happened in India?
The commercialisation of IPTV will happen now as the recent I&B Ministry guidelines has thrown some clarity on the policy issue. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has also given its recommendations. When these were still dark areas, the telcos were in the trial stage. A proper IPTV roll out should happen within the next six months.

Aren’t there areas of concern as the government is yet to give the nod to some of Trai’s recommendations?
The policy is not clear whether IPTV providers can downlink directly or it has to be churned through the cable operator. Then there is the pricing issue. We need a similar policy like it is for DTH or digital cable in Cas (conditional access system) areas. If IPTV has to compete with other digital addressable delivery platforms, it has to have a level playing field. For the same content, you can’t have a different pricing. There is also the ‘must carry’ clause for eight Doordarshan channels while in case of cable it is four. This will occupy 16 mbps (2 mbps per channel).

Time Broadband had a franchisee deal with MTNL for providing IPTV a few years ago. Why no roll out was there since then while other players like IOL Broadband and Aksh Optifibre went ahead to launch their services?
Since there was no IPTV policy, we didn’t want to launch commercially. Moreover there was no copyright definition for IPTV content. The technology was also evolving. Besides, MTNL worked out a different revenue sharing system with later franchisees like Aksh. We have sorted out our issues with MTNL.

What was the roadblock on the technology front?
Every medium has a message and every message needs the right medium. We had decided on ADSL2+ technology. For a market like India where there is 2 mbps on the last mile, you will need H.264 AVC which was evolving as a technology. We have Amino set-top boxes (STBs) and Verimatrix encryption system.

Since you were under arbitration with MTNL, what was it that attracted Dubai Investment Group (DIG) to take a 40 per cent stake in your company through its subsidiary Dubai Ventures?
They were attracted by the knowledge base that we had acquired. DIG has a telecom and IPTV presence in many markets. Time Broadband will be the new technology company which will support their projects in different markets. We have launched IPTV over 2.5G mobile platform in Malaysia. They see us as futuristic telecom company.

How much has DIG invested into the project and who are the other shareholders?
The company has pumped in close to Rs 1 billion though our target is Rs 4 billion. We should break even once we reach a 2.5 million subscriber base. For achieving this target, we will require an investment of around Rs 7 billion. Aniyan Kutty Kunju, the chairman of Jai Hind TV (a Malayalam news channel), is another shareholder.

How will you manage to have 2.5 million IPTV subscribers?
We have signed up with BSNL to roll out IPTV on their network across 20 towns in Uttar Pradesh and the eastern region of India. We have also tied up with MTNL in cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Unlike the private telecom operators, these two state-owned majors have the last mile connectivity. Besides, as content aggregators we have the advantage of even doing business with all the telcos. We are also optimistic about IPTV on mobile phones once 3G opens up in India. We have created a lot of content for mobile, as the screen and user habits are different. We have lifestyle, yoga, spiritual, music and sports content. We have tied up with IMI for

music and different producers for other content.

Are you also operating overseas?
Yes, in the South East we are operating in Malaysia, Hongkong, Indonesia, China, in the Middle East we are operating in countries like Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait besides South Africa, Kenya and Egypt. In Europe we are operating in Monaco, Italy and Belgium.

Recently you were part of the third edition of Cinemascapes. Any comments from film personalities?
Many film personalities like Yash Chopra, Ramesh Sippy, Manmohan Shetty and Anil Kapoor were there at the Cinemascapes.They expressed their keen intention for captivating the advantages of mobile reach to the news segment of digital audience for Global acceptance. We were very delighted when Yash Chopra said, “Leaders of the film industry will continue to bring mini-sized masterpieces in future and will captivate the digital medium with our unique creative offerings.” On the other hand Anil Kapoor opined, “Fans would eagerly wait to see their stars and hear the tit-bits of the industry. Today with the mobile media, all of this will reach them instantaneously.