Russian telco VimpelCom, which tied up an agreement with Microsoft to deploy Mediaroom just under a year ago (see our previous post), has launched its Beeline TV service – the first implementation of Microsoft’s IPTV technology in the Russian/CIS market.
The move follows a successful commercial trial of the Microsoft platform by VimpelCom under the Corbina TV brand. Corbina Telecom is a subsidiary of VimpelCom.
Intriguingly, Microsoft’s original press release about the deal said the service would launch in ‘mid-2008′ – a statement we repeated at the time.
Connected TV now assumes that was a typo! Otherwise, there’s been almost a year’s delay. Microsoft has now told Connected TV that a mid-2008 commercial launch had indeed been envisaged, and accepts there has effectively been a delay of nearly a year. Microsoft puts this down to the fact that it had agreed the trial with Corbina Telecom before its acquisition by VimpelCom.
Whatever the precise reasons for the delay, the deployment is a potentially major one for Microsoft: Beeline currently has in excess of 800,000 broadband subscribers in Russia, but the VimpelCom Group also has companies operating in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and Armenia.
As of September 30, 2008, VimpelCom’s total number of active subscribers in Russia and the CIS was 57.8 million (including 45.1 million in Russia, 5.6 million in Kazakhstan, 3.1 million in Uzbekistan and 2.4 million in Ukraine).
Beeline TV subs will be able to access typical PVR functionality, some 3,000 on-demand programmes and movies, 125 channels (including 4 HD channels), as well as soccer matches from the Russian Premier League, Russian Championship and indoor Russian Championship.
Subscribers to the Beeline TV service will be offered the base package (100 channels) for 270 Rubles (€6.16) per month and the advanced package (125 Channels) for 495 Rubles (€11.29) per month with on-demand shows from 5-100 Rubles (€0.11-2.28).