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Cable/Video

India's HFCL Targets Triple Play

With India's telcos testing the waters for IPTV, Punjab-based operator HFCL Infotel Ltd. is putting the pieces in place to offer triple-play through its Connect Broadband subsidiary.

HFCL announced Thursday it has formed a strategic partnership with the country's largest broadcaster, Star TV, to offer TV channels and video-on-demand content over its broadband network, and make the feed available to local cable operators on a franchise basis.

That follows its tieup with Vistula Communications Inc. to launch VOIP services for consumer and business customers by the end of the first quarter. Vistula will integrate its hosted IP Centrex platform, V-Cube, into the HFCL network and manage the service. (See Vistula Launches in India.)

HFCL plans to invest 6 billion rupees (US$135.72 million) in converged services over the next two years, and says it will raise $150 million by issuing additional shares in overseas markets to finance the expansion.

The operator, which is also offering TV service over cable, is in talks with IPTV equipment vendors and plans to run a pilot in the next four to six weeks. It will initially roll out service in Punjab and Chandigarh, with plans to extend it to five other states.

As Indian carriers build out their networks to increase fixed-line penetration, they see IPTV services as a way to boost revenues from India's limited number of broadband connections. According to January figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) , the country has just one million broadband connections. HFCL, which offers mobile as well as fixed-line services, has 40,000 residential broadband subscribers.

HFCL noted its partnership with Star allows both companies "to tap into the new business opportunities that will get thrown up with the launch of IP-based services," which a slew of operators are planning for this year. (See Bharti Watches UTStarcom for IPTV and ZTE Gives Indian Carrier Some Credit.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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