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CASBAA India Forum: ‘IPTV and Mobile TV – the challenge is in terms of the content’

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CASBAA India Forum: ‘IPTV and Mobile TV – the challenge is in terms of the content’

The post-lunch sessions of the day-long India Satellite Forum, organised by CASBAA in Delhi on March 18, revolved around topics such as ‘Demand Vs Supply – Operators Vs Users’ and ‘Network Services via Satellite’.

Calling telecom as the precursor sector to IPTV service in India, Shyamal Ghosh, Chairman, IPTV Forum India and former Telecom Secretary, said pointed out that ever since the first telephone license, which was given in the year 1881, the sector had moved from private to departmentalised to private and public partnership, keeping pace with crossbar, analog, and digital technologies.

He further said, “As of January 2008 there were 8.77 million telecom subscribers, with three million more subscribers expected to be added by the end of this year. But the bad news is that landline subscribers are dropping with only 39 million subscribers. Moreover, broadband has not kept pace with its target of nine million users by 2007. There are 90 million TV penetrations with around 70 million cable connected household, while DishTV is catching up, IPTV is still struggling to find a place for itself.”

The panel discussion on ‘Demand Vs Supply – Operators Vs Users’ was moderated by Prashant Gokarn of Spectrum Consultants and included speakers like Sabina Cubbon, GM-Marketing, AsiaSat; Shyamal Ghosh; N Sampath, MD, Intelsat India; and, Raghu Das, VP India, ProtoStar.

Das said, “We are bringing two satellites in the next 12 months with 34 K-band and 38 C-band. Looking at the market, there is demand as there are 80 new channels to be approved by the Government that would require 10 transponders. With 4-8 more operators entering the Asian and Indian markets, and each of them would require at least 12-24 transponders, which is equivalent to having two satellites.”

Agreeing with Das, Sampath said, “There are 330 channels in India at present, with 200 applications and there is a great deal of demand.”

Another panel discussion was on ‘Network Services via Satellite’, which was moderated by John Medeiros, Deputy CEO, CASBAA. The panelist included Viren Popli, SVP, Interaction Services – STAR India; Sujata Dev, CEO and MD, Time Broadband Services; and, Jagjit Singh Kohli, MD, Digicable Networks (India).

Popli talked on the mobile TV opportunity, which could deliver content to 250 million devices through the 2.5G network. He said, “The challenge is not in terms of device or the price point, but the real challenge is in terms of the content and who would invest in that content. Another market we are looking at keenly is the India Diaspora across the globe. There is a huge market of Indians living abroad who can consume content from India. There is a whole series of options and choices to reach out to these consumers with your content and the appropriate application.”

Giving the closing address, RN Choubey, Advisor (B&C), TRAI, stressed on convergence, digitalisation and cable. He said that TRAI had given its recommendations regarding IPTV and mobile TV to the Government, where it had stated that IPTV service would not require a different set of licensing, but that the existing cable operators could provide it through their networks. TRAI also stressed that there would be a new class of operators – mobile TV operators.

Choubey admitted that there were steep challenges in digitalization and upgradation of the cable network. Of the roughly 75 million cable homes in the country, a very small percentage had digital, analog or encrypted networking. He added that the cable operation in India was not just fragmented but monopolised as well. In such a scenario, the protection of consumer’s interests could be ensured through the growth of content providers and content distributors, he said.


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