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Movies, matches likely on broadband

P. Manoj

BSNL subscribers may be able to watch video content in six months

  • Plan to show blockbusters within a few weeks of their release
  • Video content service dependent on number of broadband subscribers

    Bangalore: If you have a personal computer (PC) at home with a broadband connection, chances are that you wouldn't mind if the neighbourhood cable operator cuts the cable connection citing minor payment disputes with the Government, particularly around the time an exciting cricket match or a good movie is being aired.

    For, in six months, the Government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) plans to roll out video content services to its broadband users in major cities initially, besides providing value-added services.

    "We will provide video content services to our broadband users in six months. We have the technology to support this facility," a senior BSNL official told The Hindu .

    For starters, it is looking to provide video content services that includes blockbusters within a few weeks of release. Using the Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) Two Plus technology, BSNL will be able to provide Internet Protocol (IP) TV technology to its subscribers by connecting the broadband network to the content server. All that is required for this is a BSNL phone, a PC, a broadband modem and a set top box that will be connected to the TV. "The video content service will be provided for a charge," he said.

    Of the 24 Mbps download speed that BSNL has for its broadband service, only a maximum of 2 Mbps is currently being given to Internet users. "The balance 22 Mbps is being retained as a buffer for our future requirements such as providing video content services," the official said.

    The only hindrance that BSNL is facing in an early rollout of video content services on its broadband network is a relatively low customer base. It has 36,500 broadband users in Bangalore with a waiting list of 1,885. In Chennai it has a base of about 33,000 customers.

    To ramp up the number of broadband customers and "bargain a better revenue share" with video content providers, BSNL has decided to provide two-month rental-free broadband connection to customers opting for the lowest Home Plan with a rental of Rs. 250 a month (with a bandwidth of 256 Kbps). BSNL has decided to waive the one-time registration fees and installation charges which customers earlier had to pay in advance at the time of applying for a connection.

    `Immediate connection'

    "We are now only asking for a simple authorisation from prospective customers empowering BSNL to collect these charges in the next bill after the broadband is installed," the official said. Steps have been taken to ensure "immediate connection to the customers," he added.

    BSNL is targeting a customer base of one-lakh broadband users in Bangalore by March 2006. If at least 10 per cent of customers opt for video content services, it will be a "good comfortable number for BSNL and the content provider to start negotiations," he added.

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