Bharti ropes in Infosys for digital TV foray (Lead)

October 15th, 2008 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Oct 15 (IANS) India’s leading private telecom services provider Bharti Airtel has entered into a partnership with IT bellwether Infosys Technologies Ltd to offer a host of digital television (TV) services on its direct-to-home (DTH) platform.Announcing the strategic alliance here Wednesday, Bharti Airtel president for telemedia services Atul Bindal told reporters that Infosys would provide a suite of products, including devices, application servers and interactive applications to enhance digital lifestyle to Airtel customers.

“The partnership will enable us to offer next-generation interactive services to our DTH customers using Infosys digital convergence platform. Our customers will be able to enjoy internet-like television-viewing with online shopping, personalised stock quotes, news, local events, weather information and traffic updates on our digital TV,” Bindal said.

The telecom operator launched its Digital TV Oct 9 in about 60 cities, making it the sixth DTH service provider in the country to compete with Big TV of Reliance, Tata Sky, Dish TV, Sun Direct and DD Direct Plus in the digital era.

“Our digital conversion platform will enable Airtel to create a distinct product experience for its customers. Our technology platform will power Airtel digital TV viewing even on laptops and desktops,” Infosys chief operating officer S.D. Shibulal said.

Of the 225 million television subscribers across the country, only eight-to-nine million have switched over to the DTH service so far due low-penetration and upfront cost of set-top-boxes and installation charges being high.

Top officials of both the companies declined to reveal the contract details, including the investment being made in the digital convergence platform, duration of the partnership and the revenue-generation stream.

A source at Infosys, however, told IANS the revenue model would be a combination of fixed cost for the installation of the platform, development of devices and a host of applications, maintenance and training.

“A major part of the revenue will be based on variable charge to be determined by the usage of the various applications and interactive services by subscribers on a monthly basis,” a company source hinted.

The service offerings include interactive and non-intrusive applications like widgets that can be invoked by the user to view relevant and customised information.

“For the first time in the country, subscribers will be able to access local city information through interactive applications such as iCity; enjoy hassle-free internet-like experience on their TV with iNet and get live and personalised information on stock quotations, breaking news, horoscopes, cricket scores and shopping deals in the city without interrupting their TV-viewing experience,” Bindal pointed out.

Airtel digital customers will also have access to select websites packaged suitable for TV-viewing, in an application called tPortal.

“With cutting-edge interactive applications, we intend to revolutionise TV-viewing experience and enhance digital lifestyle in the Indian subcontinent,” Bindal noted.

In addition to entertainment, Infosys technology platform will provide interactive information services and engage in transactions using regular TV sets.

“Going forward, the convergence of technologies will enable consumers to experience television-viewing on computers, notebooks, smart mobile phones and digital music players. Television will no longer be an idiot box but a smart box,” Shibulal added.

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