Technology will never seize to amaze! And the pace of innovations in this space, be it the mobile phone or the laptop, has given the on-the-move Indian information anywhere anytime. One such innovation is Tata Photon TV from Tata Teleservices. Photon TV is an application that allows Tata Photon Plus subscribers to watch live television channels on their laptops while on the move. The service can be extended to personal computers at home and offices as well. The facility is offered to customers of Tata Photon Plus, its high speed mobile Internet connectivity solution. Photon TV will enable users to enjoy a near-live TV feed with a delay of just 10-seconds. “Users today are extremely mobile and want access to information and entertainment at their fingertips. Through Photon TV, we have created a product that allows viewers to virtually ‘carry TV with them’,” says Lloyd Mathias, Chief Executive Officer of Tata Teleservices.
Tata Teleservices has always been an innovator in terms of adding value to the mobile communications experience in India. The company added tremendous value to its customer’s phone usage patterns by introducing Docomo’s pay-per-use and Indicom’s pay-per-call concepts. Voice and data services were upgraded with the introduction of mobile broadband modem in Tata Photon. “Tata Teleservices was the first telecom operator to launch high-speed mobile broadband access services in the industry,” says Mathias. “Our company tracked technological breakthroughs in the mobile broadband services space; we once again have the first-mover advantage by launching Photon TV,” he explains.
At the Tata Group, innovation is an on-going process and a continuing dialogue with our consumers,” says Mathias
Although many may argue that live TV feed is already available on mobile phones via CDMA platforms, Tata Photon TV definitely has an edge over mobile service companies, because visually, the output is on a larger and more comfortable screen; and the product has been further tweaked with high quality reception and a maximum speed of 3.1 mbps, 20 times faster than a 2G-enabled mobile phone. “We found that mobile CDMA and GSM platforms fell short when experimented with videos like live television. This gap led us to innovate and provide value-adds to existing Tata Photon service,” reminisces Mathias. The service initially offers 40 channels via a Photon Plus data card, covering news, sports, entertainment, children’s entertainment and some key regional offerings. Tata Teleservices tied up with Apalya Technologies, a software company who are leaders in devising premium content for mobile video delivery platforms, to aggregate the content for Tata Photon TV. Apalya itself has entered into arrangements with several channels on a revenue-sharing basis. The plan is to rope in as many as 90 channels to partner with Tata Photon TV to add the current bouquet.
Who can use it?
Tata Photon’s customer profile mostly targets students, young executives and small and medium business enterprise owners in the 25-45 years age bracket. Photon TV will add tremendous value to remote towns and villages, which face a wired broadband connectivity problem due to lack of proper telephony. With cloud computing fast catching up, Photon TV will try to capture a fair share of the market as well. Channel explosion could lead to a dual-user phenomenon with the home desktop supplementing for a second television. That’s where the crucial price factor comes into play. A user can opt for one of the three available options, he can either pay Rs.4 per channel or choose a cluster of 10 channels for which he pays Rs.29 per month. Alternatively, he can subscribe for all 40 channels at a monthly charge of Rs.75.The only snag being that these charges do not include special events like a cricket match. Additionally, the user pays browsing charges besides the basic subscription depending upon the data usage, which is as much as 1-2 MB per minute. This seems justified considering 3G services will focus on data consumption and a chunk of the revenue would result from data download. “We are looking at users who view snack-sized snippets of television,” Mathias justifies. “Important events like budgets or a crucial over of a cricket match, where the user wants 10-15 minute snapshots when he is on the go falls under our purview,” he adds.
What’s in store?
“At the Tata Group, innovation is an on-going process and a continuing dialogue with consumers on their device of choice and their service alternatives will see us launch more such products,” concludes Mathias. When home phones were becoming redundant, Tata Teleservices launched a new, sleek, high-tech and feature-rich ‘Tata Walky’. It would be interesting to see how Tata will extend its commitment to innovate and add novel features with Tata Photon TV. With increase in versatile computing devices like iPads and smart phones that offer advanced capabilities, users are looking for 3G services that will take care of all their computing needs on a single platform. Tata Photon TV will look to add value to its current offering by adding gaming and other entertainment features that may evolve in future.