Television has been a major source of entertainment for Indian households since the technology first became available: From the early days of black-and-white ‘community’ TV sets to high definition screens at home today. In this respect, India’s national interest in television mirrors many other regions of the world, where subscribers turn to broadcasts for entertainment, news and drama, from cricket games to evening news and Bollywood to daily soap operas.
Unlike many regional counterparts, however, India traditionally has been slow to adopt new technologies. However, this gap is quickly narrowing as many smartphones and tablets are launched in India at the same time as the global market. Specific to the television industry in India, current TV models match the features and quality of those available in leading markets. As the Indian market continues to evolve, one of the most important keys to continued growth will be developing the infrastructure to deliver content to the home and the ability to scale as well.
One of the first steps toward improving TV content and infrastructure in India began with the Indian government’s mandate to digitize of programming from analog broadcasts, which were often poor in quality. This law, in addition to creating organization and regulation around broadcast in India, is also offering Indian operators the ability to widely deploy the most advanced set-top-box solutions to a broad set of subscribers across the country.
Set-Top Box 101
Set-top-boxes are a common feature in many homes around the world, and come with a variety of capabilities. For Indian operators, where large-scale set-top-box deployments are needed to serve new digital customers, affordable solutions and the variety of programming in the region are major considerations for the types of set-top-boxes to be issued. New STB offerings must cover all the four modes of transmission of content: cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcast as well as the Internet.
Since the majority of Indian television subscribers require only basic programming, many operators are focusing on a cost-efficient system that they can quickly design and distribute to home viewers. Companies like Broadcom offer near production-ready turnkey hardware and software for entry-level cable set-top boxes, which are royalty-free, feature and performance-optimized, thus eliminating the need for an operator to invest in their own resources to design the STB themselves.
Tuning into Indian Market Needs
With today’s hectic lifestyle, it is common for TV subscribers in India to want to record their favorite shows for playback at a later date or time with a PVR or personal video recorder. Having optimized software and hardware dedicated to this in set-top box designs lowers the cost of these higher-end features such as time shift, record, playback, forward and rewind in control, making it possible for even entry-level STBs to be bundled with these high-end features.
In the meantime, Broadcom has engineered a high-end STB feature called transcoding specifically for the Indian market, which allows operators to offer the feature with a reduced cost of implementation. Transcoding significantly enhances the consumer experience by allowing a viewer to tune into a live TV channel and watch it on a mobile screen in the same room while the main TV is playing another program. Imagine how easily this applies itself to a real-life scenario: A father wants to quickly check the cricket score or the news while mother and children watch another TV program together; they can do both with the transcoding technology.
India no longer lags behind other developed markets in terms of technology: It looks like even more advanced features are coming to the Indian STB market soon. The pace at which UltraHD, among other technologies, are penetrating Indian stores today is encouraging. It has progressed enormously in the past few years. During this phase of growth, it is crucial for technology partners to provide the latest solutions that help keep the technology gap small while still offering the best value to the consumer for every rupee spent.