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Trai focus on cable TV digitalisation plan

04-January-2005
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Trai focus on cable TV digitalisation plan

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has focused on the need to adopt a national plan to digitalise cable TV between 2006 and 2010. It should coincide with the Commonwealth Games in 2010, according to a Trai consultation paper on cable TV digitisation. The paper, which was issued on Monday, also spoke about introducing a licencing framework for digital cable TV networks.

Even as the initial cost of digitisation of cable networks will be high, the regulator has highlighted several advantages of the process. Improved signal quality, increase in the number of channels and provision of interactive services like video on demand are among the benefits, a Trai statement said. At present, cable TV signals are mostly in the analogue mode. “Only a few operators in the country are offering digital services to the consumer.”

To switch over to the digital mode, the delivery system must be upgraded. Also, additional equipment needs to be installed at the consumer premises to translate digital signals into analogue mode.

Referring to models in other countries, the paper says that the choice would have to be given to the consumer to go in for digitalisation. “Thus simultaneous transmission in analogue and digital mode would have to continue for several years to come,” it adds.

The paper has discussed the possibility of offering incentives to promote digitalisation, including pricing and fiscal incentives in the form of import duty, entertainment tax and service tax.

The consultation paper has sought stakeholders’ views on the issue, by the end of this month. Open house discussions will follow.

Digitalisation can be done in many ways, the paper states. “It can be done with reverse path which would enable interactive services. On the other hand this may be done without such provision. Digitalisation can be done along with CAS and it can be done without CAS.”

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