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Business – Bharti to foray into teleport biz to expand footprint in media space

Joji Thomas Philip

NEW DELHI: India’s largest telco in subscriber and revenue terms, Bharti Airtel is entering the teleport business, as it aims to expand its
footprint in the media space. Teleports are permanent satellite uplink infrastructure through which broadcasters beam their channels to satellites for transmission.

While India has about 500 channels, only 50% of them use teleport service in India for uplinking and downlinking of their signals, and the remaining use the services of international players located in Singapore and Hong Kong. Bharti will have to compete with players like HFCL Satellite Communications, Essel Shyam, Lamhas, Tata Communications and also with broadcasters who run independent teleport operations.

Bharti executives said as per their estimates, 27% of the channels in India are uplinked by the captive teleport operators (by the broadcasters), while 60% market share is held by foreign players based abroad and 13% is with Indian service providers.

“We have got a teleport licence and we see this as a Rs 1,000-crore market,” explained Bharti Airtel’s president for Enterprise Services David Nishball.

The telco has also set up a separate company, Bharti Teleport, for this business since Indian regulations do not allow more than 49% foreign holding in this space. The foreign holding in Bharti Airtel is well over 49%, as the cap in the telecoms space is 74%. “Bharti Teleport is 51% owned by Bharti Enterprises and 49% by Bharti Airtel — with this structure, we are well within the country’s FDI requirements,” Mr Nishball added.

Bharti will first offer this service by uplinking of TV channels from its centre in Noida in the national capital region, followed by Mumbai and Chennai.

“As a part of our distribution service, we will carry raw content from the origination points to the production houses and take the finished content to the teleports in India or teleport operators in other markets, as required by the media customers. We will also provide content management services for media companies such as play-out, archiving, collocation and storage. We are looking at leveraging our national backbone and submarine cable network to transport content with India or other markets,” Mr Nishball added.

The teleport business is set to witness a 35-40% increase in the next fiscal, as more broadcasters are set to uplink from India rather than routing it through international destinations.

Besides, with another 100 channels awaiting the government approval for launch, the domestic market is set to witness a 25% expansion. But industry sources point out that several new players such as Globecast, Singapore Telecomk and Indigo Telecom are set to enter this space in the immediate future, increasing the competitive intensity in this sector.

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December 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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