Hutchison Essar, the Indian mobile phone operator, has launched what is described as the country's first legal mobile-delivered music download service.

Hutchison Essar, the Indian mobile phone operator, has launched what is described as the country's first legal mobile-delivered music download service.

The nationwide operation, dubbed "Hutch - Music on Demand," offers Hutchison Essar's 16 million subscribers access to downloadable international and local repertoire from the four major labels, plus numerous independents.

At launch, roughly 100,000 titles are available, priced at rupees 20 ($0.44) per download. The content is licensed via Switzerland-based mobile digital rights management developer Secure Digital Container and its sister company Digital World Service. SDC is aiming to boost the repertoire to 700,000 tracks within three months.

As part of the service's promotion, the launch coincided with the physical and digital release of the music soundtrack from popular Bollywood movie "KRISH."

SDC is supplying the DRM for the music player, which is pre-installed in 10 different handsets and is able to play the music offered by Hutch. Moreover, SDC is operating the back-end e-commerce system.

"India is an emerging market with a population of 1 billion and has huge economic potential," comments Michael Bornhausser, SDC and DWS' CEO.

Hutchison Essar is a subsidiary of the international mobile carrier Hutchison Telecom. SDC's DRM technology is already being used by Hutchison's 3 network in the United Kingdom, O2 in Britain, T-Mobile International in Germany and the United Kingdom, Australia's Telstra, Canadian carrier Telus, plus French operator SFR.

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