The Indian Railways is planning to float a new tender for content-on-demand during the first week of September. RailTel, the Railways’ subsidiary, had in 2017 floated a similar tender — targeting revenue of Rs 6,000 crore for a 10-year period — but had got lukewarm response.
This time, the Railways has scaled down its revenue target to Rs 1,000 crore, sources in the know of the developments said.
The content-on-demand plans will allow monetisation of Railways’ entertainment services. Based on the plans, services will be provided through audio (public address systems) on trains and video systems (personal devices) on trains and platforms. After the 2017 tender got lukewarm response from industry players, the Railway Board had revised its non-fare policy. It had also asked the zones to come up with the job of tendering their areas separately. However, as this plan, too, did not take off, the board has asked RailTel to be the nodal agency for the new tender again.
Major content owners like Eros, Balaji, and Shemaroo Entertainment, and content aggregators were expected to be keen on the initiative. “We hope that players like Zee Group will be part of the tender this time too,” a Railways official said.
Before the 2017 tender, The Boston Consulting Group had done a study and had indicated that content-on-demand plans had the potential to unlock as much as Rs 2,277 crore in revenue in three years. The national transporter had approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for it to allot premium spectrum to the Railways for its captive use.
The railway ministry had first requested the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to reserve 15 MHz of spectrum in 700 MHz band on February 27 and to allocate 10 MHz free of cost. DoT referred the proposal to Trai.
At present, the railway ministry has 2.5-3 MHz of the 900 MHz frequency spectrum, but is only available at certain spots, making Wi-Fi connectivity patchy. The Railways is of the view that this spectrum, worth Rs 65,000 crore, will facilitate content-on-demand.―Business Standard