The IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) service offered by BSNL is being wound up following poor subscriber offtake.
BSNL was providing IPTV services under a partnership with MyWay, a digital entertainment enterprise owned by Smart TV Group.
The group had entered into long-term contracts with MTNL and BSNL for providing co-branded interactive video services to customers in 54 cities across India.In Tamil Nadu, the services were on offer in Chennai and select towns such as Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Madurai and Puducherry.
When contacted, a MyWay spokesman confirmed that the group's Indian operations were being discontinued as they had turned highly unviable.
Company representatives have started collecting back the Set Top Boxes issued to customers across Chennai even though no official communication about the decision to suspend operations has been conveyed to subscribers. Neither has a notice been posted on MyWay's portal on the web.
Chennai Telephones sources said BSNL's corporate office in Delhi was taking up with MyWay its failure to follow the due process in terminating the service.
The abruptness of the decision has also taken the few loyal fans of IPTV by surprise. For them, IPTV's primary attraction had been the movie-on-demand feature that allowed users to download movies onto the computer and watch them at a convenient time later. Users could also pre-set the record facility for a favourite programme and watch it later even pausing or rewinding as they would with a DVD movie. In fact, users could also pause or rewind a movie or a programme.
BSNL had launched IPTV services on a commercial basis in Chennai in October 2009 after a three-month trial period by offering about 140 popular channels free of cost and rolling out various packages (inclusive of pay channels) in the Rs.100-to-Rs.300 pricing band.
However, the subscriber base was only about 3,000 in the State. An official at MyWay put the number of active subscriptions much fewer – at around 500.
IPTV, which delivers video or TV broadcasts over the broadband network instead of the conventional method of tapping signals over the cable lines (Cable Operator) or via satellite (DTH), was touted to provide a superior customer experience.
It was initially positioned to compete with the DTH services, especially by virtue of the movie-on-demand facility, higher degree of interactivity, e-mail, chat and SMS features on television.