India's Atlas Interactive seeks to raise funds for its IPTV and mobile network rollouts

April 13, 2005

3 Min Read
IPTV Operator Plans London IPO

Indian IPTV service provider Atlas Interactive is planning to raise expansion funds from London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) by floating its main operating subsidiary, OneWorld Interactive, this summer.

The company, which is embarking on an aggressive triple-play broadband access rollout in India in partnership with incumbent operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL), will announce details of its proposed listing within the next few weeks, says Amyn Chagan, CEO of Atlas Interactive India.

"We're planning to list in London in June, but we haven't announced a funding target yet. We'll be saying more in the next few weeks," says Chagan.

In the meantime, Atlas Interactive is forging ahead with its triple-play and mobile network rollout plans in India, backed by a $1 billion vendor financing credit line from key infrastructure partner ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), which has been multiplying its international revenues from the sale of fixed and mobile networking equipment (see ZTE Gives Indian Carrier Some Credit and ZTE Doubles Overseas Sales).

Chagan says the money raised on the AIM will lessen the need to draw on the funds made available by the Chinese vendor, but that the financing "strengthens our position in the market. We'll always need a credit facility."

Atlas has a revenue-sharing agreement with BSNL to deliver its NetTV services, including video on demand, broadcast TV, music, Internet access, and VOIP, across the incumbent's standing copper access network, which is connected to 36 million Indian homes.

Atlas is building the broadband and NetTV service delivery and management capabilities in BSNL's facilities and will generate the customers' bills, but BSNL will collect the money. Details of the revenue sharing agreement haven't been revealed.

The services will initially be available to 50,000 potential subscribers in New Delhi (see IPTV Tidbits: MS, China & More). Another 38 cities are targeted in the $260 million project, and the operator plans to use Wimax in areas where copper is not available or cannot be laid.

Atlas has set itself a target of signing up 1.4 million subscribers, for an average revenue of 1,100 rupees (US$25.20) per month by the end of 2006, and believes the NetTV service will be break even at some point next year. (Atlas isn't the only Indian company with IPTV plans: see Reliance, Microsoft Team on IP TV.)

Atlas, part of the telecom/defense Atlas Group, also plans to roll out GSM and CDMA mobile access networks in 12 regions that will cover half of India's 1 billion-plus population.<. And the company's plans don't stop there: Atlas plans to offer NetTV services in Chile, Romania, and Croatia.

Apart from its key infrastructure relationship with ZTE, Atlas has been sourcing IPTV systems from video equipment vendor BitBand and IPTV middleware provider Orca Interactive Ltd. (see BitBand Lands Indian IPTV Deal and Orca Wins IP TV Deal in India).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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