Reader's Poll

Which of the following technologies/concepts are likely to witness significant traction this year?
Any data to show


Tele Data

Mobile Subscribers Yearwise comparision

Media and entertainment majors leverage telecom for better efficiency

December 15, 2010

Engaged in the business of providing news and entertainment services, media and entertainment companies are not only required to deliver in “live” situations, they also have to deal with stiff competition to keep ahead of rivals. In this context, robust and flexible communication channels are a key priority for these companies.

Over the years, these companies have invested heavily in communications infrastructure. Traditional ground-based wired telecom and IT systems have been replaced with state-of-the-art technologies that enhance productivity, allow the company to tap new revenue sources and streamline operations.

Apart from using wide area network technologies instead of the standard email, these entities have deployed technologies such as multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), point-to-point Ethernet and ISDN. These not only provide reliable back-up and seamless interbranch connectivity, but also afford the companies enough bandwidth for heavy applications such as video- and audio-conferencing.

Also, media and entertainment majors such as the Star Group, CNN-IBN,   Rajshri Productions, Dharma Productions and Eros Entertainment make strategic use of mobile-based applications, especially short messaging service (SMS). Viewers can share their opinion, post news or take part in news-related polls or contests via their mobile handsets by simply sending an SMS to a predefined number.

At the back end, while some media houses have tied up with telecom service providers to access SMS data, others have set up a separate SMS server to store, sort and analyse data. For example, CNN-IBN has a centralised SMS service. All data sent through an SMS gets directed to the company’s servers. The automated data management software then helps experts analyse the data. In addition, viewers can receive news updates, videos, etc. through their handsets for a minimal price.

Also, mobility applications such as mobile data connectivity and corporate intranet have become popular. Media houses are equipping their reporters with smartphones and personal digital assistants that support emailing facilities while on the go. Similarly, entertainment majors make extensive use of the corporate intranet facility, which facilitates information sharing across the organisation.

Moreover, the internet has emerged as an important news and information source. For media majors, nearly every traditional “broadsheet” reaches out to a wider audience via an online edition. Entertainment companies use their web portal to showcase movies and communicate with a wide range of audiences across the globe.

On the voice side, internet protocol (IP) telephony – wherein all IP phones connected to the enterprise IP network can communicate toll free irrespective of location – is gaining popularity among closed user groups due to its cost advantage. Voice over internet protocol (VOIP) is being extensively used by media companies to support voice, video and data applications on the same IP network. VOIP also enables enhanced applications such as unified messaging and call centre solutions on enterprise IP networks.

Apart from telecom, several applications have also caught on. Of these, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and vehicle tracking systems are the most used. ERP applications help take an end-to-end view across all business lines, and facilitate data and information availability to key personnel in different parts of the country. Also, SAP helps optimise systems by offering an enterprise-wide solution to all players in the value chain. Vehicle tracking systems equipped with a global positioning system device and compatible on both CDMA and GSM networks help media organisations keep track of their news vans and content delivery  channels. This improves flexibility, eliminates the need for expensive tracking and surveillance equipment, and increases operational efficiency.

In all, media and entertainment majors are increasingly deploying the very best in technology – both telecom and IT – to stay ahead in the race for eyeballs. tele.net conducted a survey among companies in the media and entertainment sector, wherein the respondents were asked about their telecommunications infrastructure, key service providers and vendors, and the major issues and concerns with respect to the services being used.

The following questions were asked in the survey:

•           What are the organisation’s key technology requirements?

•           What mix of service providers and vendors are being used for various services?

•           What are the key issues and concerns with respect to telecom infrastructure and services?

•           Which enterprise and mobility applications have been implemented by the organisaton?

•           Which redundancy applications have been deployed by the organisation?

•           Which network security tools are being used by the organisaton?

•           Which new applications is the organisation looking to use in the near future?

Key technology requirements

The results of the survey show that companies in this sector have opted for a reliable and robust telecom infrastructure, which allows seamless data and information sharing, increases operational efficiency and reduces ownership costs.

A multi-tiered communications infrastructure, which includes a mix of wireless and wireline technology, is being used by these entities. The most widely used mediums include DLC (local loop), MPLS, VSAT, Ethernet (point-to-point), ISDN and Wi-Fi. While VSAT is used for back-up and remote connectivity, ISDN is used for redundancy and videoconferencing.

Entertainment major Mukta Arts uses DLC (local loop) connectivity at 10 Gbps and PRI telephone lines. The DLC is provided by Tulip Telecom while the telephone lines are supplied by Reliance Communications (RCOM). This medium provides “always-on” connectivity, which supports bandwidth-hungry applications, especially video- and audio-conferencing. Being a cost-effective connectivity option, it has also helped trim overheads. The company uses point-to-point Ethernet, which provides high availability and capacity, and a secure network for data and information.

Wi-Fi and radio frequency (RF) are also widely used. The Pioneer, for instance,  makes use of Wi-Fi. According to the company respondent, this serves as a cost-effective medium of connectivity. Most of the Wi-Fi adapters have user-friendly configurations and diagnostic tools that help adjust or change the settings according to requirements. Adlabs too has been reaping the benefits of implementing Wi-Fi. This medium has helped the company enable intranet information exchange. Since the company’s intranet communication is not limited, one can send all files, communicate through chat and play network games.

Business Standard uses VSAT owing to the multiple benefits offered by the medium. These include versatility, flexibility and the ability to accommodate email and internet usage without using land cables, thereby avoiding the normal problems of cable cutting, etc.

Also, most respondents have a well-established infrastructure for international connectivity. The most commonly used technologies for this purpose include international private leased circuits, MPLS and internet protocol-virtual private networks.

For last mile connectivity, optic fibres and digital subscriber lines (DSLs) are the preferred mediums. Business Standard, for instance, uses both these technologies. While Bharti Airtel and RCOM provide the company’s DSL infrastructure, the latter manages its optic fibre set-up.

Other software tools used by these companies include storage applications such as EMC2, customer relationship management (CRM) and ERP. Sanjeeb Choudhury, head, IT at The Indian Express, says, “EMC2 has helped us build an efficient information infrastructure and allows us to store vital data and information. Information, no matter how dated, is readily available and secure.”

Referring to the ERP solution, the Business Standard respondent says that the tool has helped the company balance the load on its telecom infrastructure and evenly distribute various tasks across the system. ERP has provided a single, unified database that contains data for various software modules pertaining to functions such as project management, CRM and managing financials. The package also contains modules that have simplified the company’s production processes and made the supply chain more transparent.

The internet and mobile handsets are being leveraged as strategic tools by both verticals. Business Standard’s news portal provides fast and easy access to the latest developments, opinion pieces and features. The media major uses news feeds and a WAP portal to provide news links and updates on handsets.

Similarly, Mukta Arts uses its website as a medium to promote movies and reach out to a wide range of audiences both in India and across the globe. The site showcases all the movies under the banner and other value additions such as a movie archive, photo galleries, wallpapers, screen savers, e-cards and trailers. Apart from ERP, the company has used group-specific applications that cater to all its business groups. It has also upgraded its servers and deployed a storage area network.

Service providers and vendors of choice

The companies included in the survey use the services of multiple telecom operators and vendors. These include Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices Limited, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited, IBM, Calix, RCOM, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Wipro, Primus, Hughes, Cisco, CMC, Sun Microsystems, Spectranet, Nortel, Hewlett-Packard and Tata Communications.

Issues and concerns

Uptime and network performance are the key areas of concern for media companies.  “While we enjoy 90 per cent uptime most of the time, we do face some breakages, which we cannot afford to have,” states Choudhury.

The respondent from Rajshri Productions brings up the issue of network performance. He says, “Being a media company, one cannot afford to experience downtime, even for 5 or 10 minutes. Connectivity is the foundation of our functioning and so utmost care should be taken to get the best possible deal.”

Whistling Woods International raises another concern. According to the entertainment major, since no operator provides a comprehensive suite of services, the extent of networking in the telecom set-up is often inadequate. The other major issue is security – applications like Wi-Fi entail several security issues.

Downtime and poor service are the major problems faced by entertainment companies. “We require always-on broadband connectivity as we communicate and transfer data and information through the internet. Therefore, even a second of downtime is fatal for us,” says the spokesperson from Adlabs. Similarly, the respondent from Dharma Productions says, “The after-sales service we are getting from our service provider has huge scope for improvement. The operator does not respond in time, which results in delays at our end and thereby impacts business."

Mobile and enterprise applications

A host of enterprise applications are being used by these organisations. These include audio- and videoconferencing, toll-free services, instant messaging, web conferencing and VOIP.  Video- and audio-conferencing are being widely used as these economical mediums of communication help reduce travel time and keep track of daily activities in a secure manner. Enterprise applications used by The Pioneer include web hosting, VOIP, audio- and videoconferencing, and email and instant messaging. These tools are being used by over 25 per cent of the company’s workforce.

Moreover, these entities have extensively deployed mobile applications such as mobile email, mobile data connectivity and corporate intranet. Other popular applications include personal information management, mobile conferencing, push alerts, sales force automation and vehicle tracking systems.

The Pioneer uses several mobility applications to ensure seamless connectivity. Mobile email helps every member of the workforce stay connected to the office, even while on the move, by receiving emails instantly and being able to access every desktop component remotely. The corporate intranet facility improves information sharing and collaboration across the organisation

Network redundancies

For back-up, media companies use a mix of telecom infrastructure such as leased and ISDN lines, UPS and data back-up, and applications such as data archiving and data recovery. The Indian Express uses leased lines as a back-up for its communications infrastructure. The Asian Age uses a central UPS back-up, which is connected to all personal computers, in addition to broadband back-up.

Business Standard uses security audits, under which audit reports are generated by the system or a certain software to monitor changes made to a particular file or settings on a system or network. The organisation has also been using penetration testing, OS security patches and firewalls.

Entertainment companies generally use a simple back-up infrastructure. Adlabs uses a centralised UPS system, which is connected to every computer on the LAN as well as a tape drive back-up. Dharma Productions uses a multi-tiered redundancy set-up. “We use multiple leased lines and maintain a stock of spare parts for router switches so that any part of the network can be immediately replaced,” says the company respondent. According to the respondent from Rajshri Productions, the company’s connections to the internet are fully backed up, but it still uses ISDN lines in addition to disaster management and recovery solutions for data protection.

Network security

All these companies use firewalls and user authentication as network security tools. Proxy servers, OS security patches, security audits, unified threat management and data encryption are also in use.

The way forward

Most of these organisations plan to upgrade their telecom infrastructure in the future. “We are interested in exploring the possibility of installing hardware that helps put together the paper without much manual effort. The only constraining factor is the price of such hardware,” says the respondent from The Asian Age.

As for Rajshri Productions’ future telecom plans, the company respondent says, “We plan to upgrade our website to a new version by using Microsoft’s .NET framework. This framework connects information, people, systems and devices through software. This will enable us to integrate our systems more rapidly and in a far more agile manner.”

The Indian Express’s Sanjeeb Choudhury says, “On the hardware side, we would like to deploy the very latest in server OS, desktops and other periphery. On the software side, we do not have much requirement as we have a comprehensive and cohesive infrastructure. 0We have achieved seamless connectivity, both internal and interbranch, and will continue to deploy the best technologies.”

Net, net, the companies in the media and entertainment segments have understood the need for a strong and reliable communication backbone and are pulling out all the stops to deploy the very best.


To post comments, kindly login

 Your cart is empty




Monday morning