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Video services

BSNL Preps for IPTV

India’s Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) is beginning the year with a broadband push, announcing plans to invest 20 billion rupees (US$450.9 million) in its broadband infrastructure and preparing to roll out IPTV services.

BSNL, which currently has around 700,000 ADSL subscribers, intends to expand its network capacity from 1 million broadband lines to 5 million. It will also need to meet new government requirements that carriers boost their broadband offerings from 256 kbit/s to a minimum of 2 Mbit/s. (See YOU Boosts Speed.)

BSNL's upgraded network will enable the carrier to launch a full suite of video services, which it is trialing with content delivery firm IOL Broadband Ltd. (See IOL, BSNL Team for IPTV.)

In an associated move, the carrier has shortlisted six companies to provide plant and machinery for the manufacture of 1 million ADSL2+ modems: Xalted Networks , Midas Communication Technologies Pvt. Ltd. , Terracomm Teleservices Pvt. Ltd., Iron Master India Pvt. Ltd., Merritronix Pvt. Ltd. , and Bharat Electronics Ltd. . It will open bids for the contract on January 25, according to a notice posted on its Website today.

The country’s other state-run carrier, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , launched IPTV services last November and signed IOL as one of three companies to run franchise operations over its network. (See MTNL's IPTV Sparks Regulatory Debate.) BSNL is choosing a similar approach and will begin offering initial IPTV services in Bangalore on January 14. New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai will follow in February, while a full commercial launch to all broadband customers is set for April.

So which companies could benefit from BSNL's new broadband push?

While the likes of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), ECI Telecom Ltd. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Siemens Communications Group , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) are likely to be interested, the carrier's incumbent DSLAM suppliers, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), look well placed.

Huawei's relationship with BSNL has blown hot and cold in the past, with the Chinese vendor falling out of favor about a year ago when it defaulted on a wireless equipment contract. (See BSNL Shuns Huawei.)

But the duo appear to have kissed and made up, as BSNL has just awarded Huawei an optical contract to boost its bandwidth with STM-64 SDH equipment. (See BSNL Deploys Huawei SDH.)

The deployment is BSNL's first installation of 10-Gbit/s next-gen SDH gear to scale up its optical network, and reflects the growing level of traffic across the carrier's 640,000 kilometer network. Its previous SDH deployments have involved STM-1 (156 Mbit/s) and STM-16 (2.5 Gbit/s) equipment.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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