Update (Nikhil adds): We’re awaiting a clarification from OnMobile Global about whether Real Networks has replaced them in these circles. If yes, then it’s probably a pretty big deal, since it is 10 circles. Typically, OnMobile doesn’t comment on clients, but we’ll update in case they respond.

Idea Cellular has inked a long term Ringback Tone partnership with Real Networks, following which it will power Idea’s Dialer Tone service in 10 circles including Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP West, UP East, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Kolkata, Assam and North East, which constitute about one-third of Idea Cellular’s total base. Idea says that it will benefit from Real Network’s expertise in music, technology and licensing, and will be able to offer advanced and new features on the platform.

Real Networks was shortlisted after an open bidding process in which other global and Indian VAS companies took part. The company first launched its Ringback tone service in South Korea in 2002 with SK Telecom and now claims to serve 588 million subscribers across 16 operators in 10 countries with its RBT ASP service.

Real Networks has offices is NCR and Mumbai and intends to expand its base with multiple carriers in Mumbai as well as across the country. It already provides RBT service for Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers as well as VAS operations to Tier 1 carriers.

Anupam adds: A large part of operators’ VAS revenues come from Ringback tones. Of late, there have been efforts to make the adoption process simpler, with operators like Airtel launching a web interface, Tata Docomo launching a Facebook app, and music labels such as T-Series and Sony publishing RBT activation codes on CD jackets and film posters. It would be interesting to see if an international player such as Real Networks is able to offer a differentiated experience compared to existing offerings.

In the US, the company also offers the Echo Ringback Tone Marketplace which is a ringback tone distribution service and a master catalogue, that allows the mobile operators support, promote, and sell ringback tones. It offers ringback tones with a single purchase code recognized by major US carriers, including Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, and Sprint. The company had also announced an Open Gateway for RBTs which focuses on off deck (non operator channels) promotion of Ring back tones, allowing music companies, and operators to market RBT content to consumers through a variety of channels, including on an RBT widget builder, a Facebook application and a mobile application .