The Kerala circle has become the first in India to support BSNL’s commercial IPTV services, and both direct and indirect customers of BSNL can avail of the service.
IPTV refers to the distribution of television content via IP or internet protocol, instead of traditional broadcasting protocols like DVB.
BSNL had been testing IPTV for several years in many places, but had not launched the service commercially in any location.
OPTION FOR CABLE OPERATORS
As far as the cable operator is concerned, the business model for BSNL’s IPTV is similar to the business model of cable distribution, except that instead of signal boosters and signal processors, the local cable operator has to install a computer at his premises for handling IPTV traffic and connect it to the fiber network.
“They have to install a computer system that is not very different from a usual desktop in terms of configuration,” said a person involved in the roll-out of BSNL’s IPTV services in Kerala.
Without this LCO server, the entire load of the IPTV services will be felt on BSNL’s media server.
“It is okay if there are only up to 25 subscribers or so, but beyond that, it becomes difficult to support it from BSNL’s own network. So, we require them to set up the server on their own network once the number of customers increase,” he pointed out.
At present, BSNL IPTV is offering around 350 channels, including nearly all the popular channels in Kerala such as Asianet, Surya, Star Sports, MNX, HBO, Star Movies and so on.
The pricing of the BSNL IPTV service is also comparatively lower than that of traditional cable TV, as the basic package costs only Rs 100 per month, and includes around 34 pay channels, including Asianet, Surya, Flowers and four sports channels from the Star group.
A similar package from the traditional cable platform costs around Rs 250 per month.
The second package, that costs Rs 200 per month, includes several more channels, such as HBO, BBC, Sony, Discovery, CNBC and so on.
All HD channels are currently being sold as separate packages.
Any direct broadband customer of BSNL can activate the IPTV service by registering on the company website.
However, if the person is an indirect broadband customer of BSNL, then the person has to check if the LCO or his agent has signed up to deliver the service or not. Many LCOs have not signed up for the service, possibly for fear of cannibalizing their existing cable TV service.
The person cited above said the LCOs are eligible to get a share of the revenue generated by the IPTV service.
The IPTV platform deployed by BSNL supports ‘catch up’ TV and rewind functions.
However, BSNL has decided not to activate these features at present, at least for now.
BSNL has gone for an entirely software-based IPTV solution. Both the LCO retransmitter as well as customer access is done using software.
To access the service, the customer has to install an Android application on his or her smart TV or other smart device such as a mobile phone or a smart set-top-box.
It is possible to configure more than one smart TV or device using the same account credentials. However, only one live stream can be watched per account at a given time.
In other words, the customer can install the IPTV software on his mobile, tablet and TVs, but cannot watch on all three devices at the same time using just one account. To watch on multiple devices at the same time, he or she will have to take multiple BSNL IPTV subscriptions.
The data consumed by the IPTV service is not deducted from the customer’s main broadband account.