Don’t Let Local Cable Operators Lose Their Business Post Digitization: COFI
Telecom Lead India: Cable Digitization drive in India has brought about insurmountable challenges to the industry, especially the local cable operators, said Roop Sharma, president, Cable Operators Federation of India (COFI), at the “Broadcast Digitization: Challenges and Opportunities” summit organized by Telecom Lead, a leading B2B portal on telecommunications and broadcasting industry in India, in Delhi on December 19.
Speaking at a gathering of 100s of cable operators, MSOs and various government officials, Sharma said cable operators have not been given their dues promised in the actions recommended by TRAI in 2010 including industry status to LCOs; duty waiver for STB’s and Digital Headend Equipment; Clarity of ARPU/ Tariff post implementation of DAS; revenue share structure; standard interconnection agreements; training of manpower, among others.
Sharma urged TRAI to implement a licensing scheme for LCOs like that offered to the Broadcasters, DTH operators and MSOs.
Parameswaran N, principal advisor, TRAI, in his keynote address said the first phase of cable digitization in India was a great success thanks to the support of the ecosystem partners including the local cable operators (LCOs), MSOs, and broadcasters.
Parameswaran said, “Each one of the stakeholders including the broadcasters, LCOs, MSOs has contributed their share to make the Phase I of digitization a great success. We would like to acknowledge and congratulate them for this and highlight the fact that without their support this would not have been achieved. TRAI continues to support and is ready to address the challenges faced by cable operators.”
Sisir Pillai, chief strategy officer, DigiCable Network, also echoed the view of TRAI that the first phase of cable digitization was highly successful. While commending the industry stakeholders including broadcasters, MSOs and LCOs for their relentless support, Pillai also said regulatory pressure from government bodies like TRAI and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has pushed the digitization efforts forward.
However, the bigger challenge is yet to come, Pillai added. “We achieved almost 10 million digitization target in four cities in a matter of a few months. This is because the ecosystem in these cities was ready for the transformation. The biggest challenge to come is the digitization of the next 38 cities — about 20 million homes — before March 2012. The fact that nothing has been done in these cities so far makes this target far beyond achievable.”
The Broadcast Digitization Summit: Challenges and Opportunities also discussed “How Cable, DTH Players and TV Channels Can Monetize by Utilizing Customer Demands and Technologies.”
Subhashish Mazumdar, SVP - IndusInd Media &Communications, Hinduja Group said, “The biggest strength for cable operator is the customer support. No other stakeholder knows customer better than LCOs. Lot of training and partnership efforts are required to strengthen their spirit. As an independent MSO, we are ready to give cable operators equity partnership- in content, broadband and services.”
Other speakers participated in the session include Shyam Kaushal, regional director – South Asia, WiMAX Forum; R C Bhatnagar, member, AIR Digitization Evaluation Committee, I&B Ministry; Anil Prakash, secretary general, IPTV Forum; Satyen Gupta, Secy. General, NGN Forum India; and Vidya Nath, director, GIC India, Frost & Sullivan.