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The costs of cable digitization – what it means for your pockets

  1. #1
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    Default The costs of cable digitization – what it means for your pockets

    Modern India is home to one of the world’s largest consumer bases for televisions. Although a developing country, the penetration of television in this country is one of the biggest in the world with over 147 million cable households in the country. This is a phenomenal figure, since it represents a rise from the 94 million from last year. The power of the television lies in the fact that it is the technology of choice for every income group in the country.

    A majority of these consumers have been anxious about the mandatory switch to digital cable TV services from analog services this year. The government has identified the four metro cities of Chennai, Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai as the first four cities to enforce the measure. A major cause of worry has been the mandatory requirement for set top boxes. The lack of adequate numbers of set top boxes has meant that the transition will be far from smooth. In spite of the varied benefits provided by the digitalization and the improved quality of broadcast, a majority of people seem unwilling to switch over to the new regime.

    Apart from availability, affordability has become a new problem with the transition, with the lack of adequate set top boxes driving up prices. In addition to that, the arbitrary boundaries set up by the local cable operators and their hardware and services have added to the problem.

    The original deadline for the change over for the four metros was the first of July 2012. However, the plan has been delayed time and again owing to the general anxiousness of the public and the lack of awareness.

    The major problem is the fact that a lot of cable operators have imposed exorbitant prices on their set top boxes and are charging over Rs. 1500, in spite of guidelines that mandate much lower prices. Not only does this hassle existing customers, it also scares away potential customers who were waiting for the price of set top boxes to plummet.

    A trick used by cable operators across the country is to offer set top boxes with a fixed bouquet of channels that have to be purchased along with the set top boxes. These are the same cable operators that have been threatened the most, after the digitization, owing to the risk of losing their turfs and their own tariffs.

    In different parts of Mumbai, the cost of a set top box varies between Rs. 1200 and 1500. A majority of these boxes came with a one year warranty and a bouquet of channels that varied between 180-230 mandatory channels.

    There are other cable operators who are providing set top boxes which are available at lower prices, but they have the additional handicap of not coming with any warranty.

    In other metros, the situation is even worse. Calcutta has a lot of small cable operators who have been unable to procure enough set top boxes, driving prices sky high, while Chennai has seen zooming set top box prices owing to a fear of blacked out broadcasts.

    Homeowners and customers have mixed feelings. A lot of them think that it is a good move owing to the improvement in quality of broadcast and a clamp down on the theft of cable connections. They also appreciate the choice that they are being provided with the new regime. The downtime is also expected to come down significantly, since the problem of cable failure or lack of electricity at the cable operators’ office will be a thing of the future. While expressing some concern about the rising set top box prices, the customers said that after installation, they expected their bills to be around Rs. 400.
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    I personally believe DTH is the way to go and for those who just want free to air channels there is DD direct who wont charge you anything atall for subscription. IPTV will become big once we have enough upper middle class populations concentrated in pockets where service providers would easily be able to recover costs. Iptv because on demand content in my view is going to be big in days to come and that needs huge bandwidth to keep up with HD content and in future 3D when there is enough content available.
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    I agree with admin. Ever since I switched to DTH (circa 2006), I found new peace. The cable operator would raise prices every six months and only a handful channels were good/acceptable quality. All infotainment channels were snowy (in UHF band).

    As regards to the current STB issue, cable operators were given sufficient time to upgrade and educate people. The fact is that cable operators do not wish to switch to digital STBs. This way they can continue to under-report their connections and revenue. If cable operations were banned tomorrow, I will light a candle. It just irks me to see a web of cables hanging all over and haphazardly criss-crossing all over the buildings. Just makes a dirty picture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4kix View Post
    I It just irks me to see a web of cables hanging all over and haphazardly criss-crossing all over the buildings. Just makes a dirty picture.
    What about those numerous dishes from DTH who lives in flat? Why dont they have a single dish for each DTH provider and give connections to all?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevinjohn View Post
    What about those numerous dishes from DTH who lives in flat? Why dont they have a single dish for each DTH provider and give connections to all?
    Various dishes on top of terrace are lesser of a blemish.

    Operators are quite willing to provide a single dish. But individual society member have their own preferences. Some societies have installed common dish and do not allow residents to go with any other operator. This is invasion of freedom and rights, in my opinion. Common dish is a large 6 ft diameter dish. It will take up terrace space and this could be a problem with some buildings. The individual dishes are usually installed on the side walls. Finally it is not possible to install large common dishes for all major operators.
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    Too many dishes on the walls spoils the beauty of the building! I have seen apartments (new ones) which provide the DTH outlets in the wall of the living room. All the flats are wired to this single centralised cable, which connects to different DTH providers antenna using a device called "switch". In India, I guess we have 6 - 7 DTH provides, and amongst these most of them share a single satellite, INSAT, I think Dish TV uses NSS. . .

    A max of 7 small antennas on the terrace can provide service to the entire flat residence. . . . Cut down the cost of LNB for customers!

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