The Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) released a consultation paper on Headend-in-the-Sky (HITS) on July 24. HITS is a satellite-based delivery platform for delivering multi-channel television signals to cable operators across the country. It is capable of delivering TV signals in digital form with addressability feature.
The HITS operator would uplink signals of TV channels of different broadcasters to the HITS satellite in the sky. Cable operators across the country would then downlink these TV channels from this HITS satellite for further distribution to the subscribers through their cable network in digital form.
The I&B Ministry has requested TRAI to formulate and recommend the policy guidelines for HITS operation. Digitalisation and addressability in transmission of broadcasting and cable services through HITS have numerous advantages over analogue transmission. These advantages include increased channel carrying capacity over cable; better reception quality and value added features like programme guide and multi view. However, perhaps the most important aspect of HITS operation is that it can provide effective choices of channels to consumers throughout the country through the cable operators at one go by virtue of the fact that HITS satellite would have countrywide footprints.
At present, such features are available only to a limited number of cable subscribers residing in CAS notified area of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, as well as to subscribers of DTH services. The HITS operation has the potential to spread digitalisation and Conditional Access (CA) feature in cable services across the country at an accelerated pace. In a very large but fragmented market with 60,000 cable operators serving 70 million cable homes, this might be one of the efficient means to digitalise cable operations in India.
The consultation paper on HITS seeks views from various stakeholders on various policy issues such as scope of HITS operation, spectrum band for its operation, FDI limit, entry fee, annual fee and spectrum fee, uplinking restrictions, and cross holding restrictions, among others.
TRAI has invited all stakeholders to respond to the issues raised in this consultation paper by August 10, 2007.