Despite the digitisation process commencing in Kolkata from November 1, 2012, the Eastern metro continues to receive analogue signals. While the last available data from the I&B ministry claims 87 per cent digitisation in Kolkata, MSOs maintain that this figure is not more than 45 per cent. According to them around 18 lakh set top boxes still remain to be installed.
Speaking to exchange4media, Samar Majumder, President, Ideal Cable Operators Association of Kolkata (ICOA), commented, “We are happy with the digitisation move as it will benefit customers. But the speed of installing set top boxes is very slow and there is less hope of complete implementation of DAS this year. It is very unfortunate that we are lagging behind by 50-60 per cent. There are multiple TV connections in many homes in Kolkata, but we are not able to meet the demand since there is not enough supply of set top boxes.”
Besides the supply of STBs, there have been concerns expressed over the quality of the boxes being imported from China, since they do not carry the ISI mark nor is there any proper quality check in place.
Commenting on the major roadblocks in the path to digitisation, Mrinal Chatterjee, Director, Kolkata Cable and Broadband Pariseva, alleged, “All the national and regional MSOs, along with the Central Government, are responsible for the current situation of DAS in Kolkata. The Government needs to find a way out. We are ordering the set top boxes from China, but the question is – is China in a position to supply the boxes?”
He further said that the set top boxes are being given without any receipts to the customers.
The most affected areas are the western and eastern parts of Kolkata, as well as the Howrah area, which continue to receive analogue signals. This is because most MSOs fear there will be a law and order situation if the analogue signals are switched off completely and TV screens go blank.
Meanwhile, Kanak Singh Rana, Director, Gujarat Television and Pradip Pandya, MD, Kailash Cable, two MSOs operating in Kolkata, are confident that the STB installation process will be completed by December end.
According to Pandya, “STB installation work is going on full swing and we expect to cover the entire city with digital set top boxes by the end of December 2012.”
In the mean time, the I&B Ministry has asked the operators in Kolkata to provide details about the installation of set top boxes and how many households are still receiving analogue signals.
The West Bengal Government has also asked local police stations to find out how many connections are there under each cable operator in their respective areas.