NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio’s Jiofiber and Bharti Airtel’s Xstream will soon have a formidable rival to worry about in the converged high-speed Internet-TV-Voice segment. On Monday, state-run telecom major BSNL signed an MoU with internet-based live streaming platform YuppTV to offer customers bundled live TV and video content via broadband mobile and fixed-line connections, including BSNL’s high-speed Bharat Fiber.
Depending on the price point, the entry of the BSNL-YuppTV combine into the ‘triple play’ space is poised to have a significant impact on broadband internet penetration in the non-metro and rural markets, which are significantly underserved in this respect. According to TRAI, while wireless broadband subscribers numbered 596.55 million as of the end of August this year, wired broadband connections stood at just 18.32 million of which BSNL alone accounted for 8.79 million.
“BSNL’s reach in these tier-2 and 3 markets is unrivalled and the partnership will give us significant value,” said Uday Reddy, Founder and CEO, YuppTV to TNIE, adding that while the commercial aspects of the pact have to be thrashed out, the offering is fully ready as far as technical factors are concerned.
As for BSNL, it will be able to provide customers with YuppTV’s library of both licensed and original content exclusive to the Indian market, alongside live TV broadcasts. “Such marriage between infotainment and telecom players will happen... Content is key to drive data consumption and original content is the name of the game,” agreed BSNL’s chairman and MD P K Purwar.
Meanwhile, Uday also pointed out that BSNL’s franchisee model for its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) internet service — Bharat Fiber — could make such public-private partnerships vehicles for promoting entrepreneurship.The model licenses franchisees to deliver last mile fiber services while the backend and core infrastructure is provided by BSNL.
“There are 120,000 gram panchayats with (Bharat Fiber) connections and a company like YuppTV can step up and lead that initiative in some regions, creating entrepreneurs...,” said Reddy. According to YuppTV’s statement, it will assist in offering broadband services to underserved areas by providing last-mile infrastructure. “This will boost broadband penetration significantly,” Reddy said.
BSNL CMD P K Purwar said during the MoU signing that the government’s plan to revive the ailing BSNL is likely to be in the public domain within a month, while 4G spectrum will be allocated by the end of this year. “The telecom sector is going through a challenging phase… BSNL has legacy issues too, particularly the large manpower base. We expect the revival package to be made public in a couple of weeks,” he said.