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Reliance, Microsoft agree to deal

Indian media group OK's $500 million IPTV project

Indian media and telecoms group Reliance Communications and Microsoft have agreed a $500 million deal to deliver television services over the Internet (IPTV).

Reliance, part of the giant Reliance ADAG conglom, says the service will use Microsoft Mediaroom technology and provide video-on-demand, digital video recording, personal media sharing and choice between standard and high definition viewing.

Reliance is spending a further $500 million in infrastructure development and will launch the service by March 2008.

“Reliance is about to change the way consumers experience television,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said. “TV is the only major digital device that has been left out of the networking revolution, and Microsoft and Reliance are now making the TV a first-class citizen in the connected entertainment landscape. By connecting the TV to an intelligent two-way network and adding powerful software, new connected and personalized experiences will become possible here in India.”

Companies also said new service will allow new degree of accuracy in audience measurement.

“Until now, TV has been a broadcast, ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience. Backed by powerful Microsoft Mediaroom software, IPTV promises to offer our subscribers more choice, control and convenience,” Reliance Communications chairman Anil D Ambani, said.

Acknowledging that not all homes will have access to IPTV connections, Reliance is separately pressing ahead with its plans to launch a DTH satellite TV service, Bluemagic, which is also expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2008.

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