Second Phase of digitalization will end on 31 March 2013 but state of seeding of STBs is dismal. Most of the 38 cities of this Phase have hardly reached 30% of seeding. How much can be achieved in the next one month is anyone's guess.
However, I &B Ministry is all upbeat in announcing its achievement and plans to close down second phase successfully by due date, like it did with the first phase. Reality is that scarcity of STBs has further increased in the second phase as even the big MSOs do not have the cash. Industry has not attracted any FDI so far which was expected before Digitalisation started.
There were many incentives expected from the budget but even that has not happened. On the other hand STBs have been made costlier by increasing the import duty from 5% to 10%. Although it has been done to encourage local manufacturing, only 5% indigenous STBs were seeded in the first phase. Since local manufacturing has not yet picked up the momentum, it will take quite some time to reap the benefits of this duty increase. However, its negative impact will be much more visible keeping in mind that the STBs are required immediately to finish the task. About 20 million STBs have already been imported. I wish the government had planned all this much before implementing digitalization.
There BIS has thrown another spoke in the wheel by the recent order mandating all STBs to be registered and certified by the BIS for compliance to Indian standards with effect from 3rd April. This may further delay the delivery of STBs in the market. I am doubtful if the four designated labs will do the job speedily.
Government has also approved Unified Licensing Policy under the National Telecom Policy-2012 in which a single license will allow operators to provide all services of broadband, telecom and broadcasting. Now even a cable operator can become a telecom service provider in a city without owning the entire infrastructure. Dreams of cable providing the triple play may become true soon if this is implemented.
Hope the government also realizes the potential of cable TV industry in generating employment and integrates their networks with the National Fiber Optic Network that is expected to provide broadband to all the rural areas.
TV technology is advancing very fast with resolutions going higher and higher. Now 4K technology will provide eight times higher resolution than the present HDTV. We take a look at the technology this month.
CCBN will take place in Beijing, China this month and we hope to see you there as Cable Quest is a media partner of the event. Even CASBAA holds their annual event in New Delhi this month.
—— Lt. Col. (Retd.) K K Sharma