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AKSH Optifibre has inked a Rs 200-crore contract with UTStarcom for procuring hardware equipment and components to make set-top boxes (STB) for its mega-IPTV project with public sector Mahanagar Telephone Nigam. Under the contract, UTStarcom will supply network operation centre equipment like video storage servers, broadcast equipment, streaming equipment, switches and gaming servers. UTStarcom will also supply components for STBs to Aksh. Aksh hopes to start production of STBs in the country from the second quarter of the next fiscal.

“We will manufacture these STBs either in Reengus (Rajasthan), Uttaranchal or Jammu. We already have 2,50,000 sq mts of land in Reengus. The deal with UTStarcom entails equipment for 0.5 million subscribers and is further extendable by the same number,” Aksh Optifibre managing director KS Choudhari said. Aksh expects to have a capacity of 0.5 million units per annum for STBs. “This will happen in a phased manner. For one, we may start off with one lakh units in the first year and then ramp it up to 2.5 lakh units later,” he said.

Last year, MTNL, in association with Aksh Optifibre, announced the launch of IPTV services in Delhi, which allows viewers to opt, demand, receive and control content customised for each individual. The service offers traditional television broadcast, timeshifted TV (last one week’s television content aired by any channel available at the push of a button), video and music on demand and video calling on TV facilities.

The biggest advantage IPTV offers to consumers is the ability to integrate television broadcast with other IP-based services like highspeed Internet access and voice-over-internet – all accessible on the television set. It may be recalled that Aksh, last month, completed offering $8.75 million 1% unsecured foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCBs). The bonds with a maturity of three years and 1 day are convertible into equity shares at an initial conversion price of Rs 62 per share. The company plans to utilise the proceeds of the offering to fund its expansion plans, including the IPTV project.

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