The road to cable TV digitisation has not been a smooth one. With roughly 10 days remaining for the October 31, 2012 deadline, the installation of set top boxes (STBs) is on at a feverish pace in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Even as the installation figures quoted by the government vary widely with what the MSOs and LCOs say are the actual figures, the quality of the set top boxes available currently has come under the scanner.
Majority of the STBs are being imported from China and several LCOs have complained that the quality of these boxes is not up to the mark. They allege that these STBs are not certified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
Pradip Pandya, MD, Kailash Cable has raised serious concerns over the quality of set top boxes. He said, “I have received many complaints regarding the boxes from my customers. According to them the quality is not up to the mark and they are facing frequent disruptions in receiving the digital signals, leading to the television screens going blank.”
Other complaints received state that customers are not able to operate the STBs with the remotes provided with them, while some other customers have complained that it takes at least 12-15 seconds to switch from one channel to another.
While affirming that the problem of scarcity of set top box continues, Shamim Shaikh, MD, Seven Star Communication also complained about the quality of the STBs that are available. “Many of these boxes have not been functioning since the day of installation,” he alleged.
An official of another MSO, who did not wish to be named, said that the STBs currently available are made in China and are of low quality as compared to the earlier batches. According to him, the reason for this is the placing of orders for a huge number of STBs in quick succession.
Not everyone is complaining about the quality of STBs, though. Big players such as Hinduja and Siti Cable are happy with the quality of the STBs currently available.
Talking to exchange4media, Ashok Mansukhani, President, MSO Alliance stressed, “There is no such issue and we have been using these boxes for several years. There may be one or two cases where the quality has not been up to the mark, but there have been no cases where a huge number has been involved.”
Both Suresh Sethiya, Director, Siti Cable Kolkata and Girish M Kothari, Managing Director, Home System, too, are confident and satisfied with the quality of STBs and don’t have any issues with them.
Sethiya said, “We have installed several boxes and also have a large stock in our warehouses. There is no problem with the quality.”
A clearer picture will emerge once the STB installation process nears completion. In the meantime, it’s a race against time to get the infrastructure in place before October 31.