Exactly hundred days are left for the second phase of DAS implementation. Even as there are still some leftover work in the first phase of cable TV digitisation, the government, along with MSOs and LCOs are gearing up for a bigger challenge in the second phase. The seeding of 2.3 million set top boxes (STBs) in 38 cities is being seen as a tough nut to crack.
Analysing the current scenario, Parameswaran N, Principal Advisor, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said, “Any transformation like this is going to have its own share of problems and challenges. We have sent a very big message across the world by completing first phase of digitisation. We would like to acknowledge the support of Multi System Operators (MSOs) and Local Cable Operators (Local Cable Operators), without whom this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Phase II encompasses 38 cities in which the requirement of set top boxes will be three times that of the first phase. Hence, it is a bigger challenge to complete the process by March 31, 2012.
Parameswaran’s suggestion for cable operators on the second phase is “Whether you like it or not conversion is happening, the earlier you adopt it, the better you perform. Every stakeholder has got lots of advantages from digitisation. If you don’t walk with the times, you will become extinct.”
Meanwhile, highlighting the problems faced by LCOs, Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI) maintained, “Revenue sharing, supply of set top boxes and transparency in business are nightmares for us.” She expressed the apprehension that the situation could worsen if proper care is not taken in the subsequent phases of digitisation. “Regulators have left the LCOs at the mercy of MSOs, who fear losing their business that they have set up in the last 20 years. The Government should assure them by giving 10-year licence, which has been provided to broadcasters and DTH service providers,” Sharma further said.
While agreeing that challenges of digitisation are immense even as opportunities are unlimited, Sisir Pillai, Chief Strategy Officer, DigiCable remarked, “We need to see the coming phase with a very different perspective. Cable operators should research and try to understand the needs of customers. The younger generation uses smartphones for content, thus we too need to update ourselves with the latest technology to remain in the business.”
He also accepted the fact that digitisation in 38 cities is difficult and that seeding of over 2.3 million STBs is not an easy task, “but somehow it has to be done”.
According to Pillai, there are three main points to overcome the challenges in coming phase of digitisation. “We need to have customer-centric service, we also have to work on viewers’ patterns and migrate from a product-centric to service-centric approach. The most important thing is to engage customers with innovative solutions,” he suggested.
Parameswaran N, Roop Sharma and Sisir Pillai were sharing their views on the topic ‘Broadcast Digitisation: Challenges and Opportunities’ at the B2B seminar organised by Telecom Lead in New Delhi on December 19, 2012.