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Finally, DTH operators taking the lead in offering IPTV-like services in India

After a string of failures to successfully launch IPTV and true video-on-demand services by telecom players, it seems to be the DTH operators who are taking the lead in India.

Tata Sky, one of India’s biggest DTH operators, announced it had launched a true video-on-demand and a free recorded-TV service using broadband.

To avail of the service, users need to have Tata Sky’s HD recorder box (Tata Sky+ HD) and of course, a broadband connection. Like the HD recorder boxes of other vendors such as Airtel Digital, the Tata Sky box too has a port for connecting it to a wired broadband connection.

Once connected to the Internet, the set top box automatically downloads the required shows from the Internet, including any of the 500-1000 movies on offer.

According to industry sources, other players too are likely to launch similar services soon.

The ‘recorded TV’ service enables a viewer to watch the last 5 days of major shows from channels like Star Plus, Colors, SAB TV, NDTV, SONY Entertainment, Channel V etc.

True IPTV, which enables subscribers to watch any program at any time by streaming it rather than recording it on their local set top box, has been in India for the last five years. MTNL, the telecom operator in Delhi and Mumbai, was the first to launch such a service several years ago, followed by BSNL and several private companies.

However, none of the services were able to offer true recorded TV as most of the channel owners refused to let initial IPTV operators record their channels or programs, fearing that such recordings may be leaked and distributed online.

However, DTH operators are better placed at negotiating such deals with channel owners as they already have multi-year deals with the same channel owners for their DTH services, unlike telecom operators.

As such, many of the DTH set top boxes in the market already have the ability to also offer IPTV when connected to the Internet.

However, Internet download of programs is a data intensive affair and will require a high-speed and high capacity Internet connection on the part of the subscriber.

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