The roll-out of Digital Addressable Systems in Phase 3 and 4 markets across 110 million TV households* is being seen as the biggest and the most significant step for the Media and Entertainment industry in India. In this exciting space, NXT DIGITAL, the world class Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) service from the Hinduja Group, promises to help the cable operator fraternity in analog markets to make a smooth transition to digital. And it will help the LMOs and MSOs accomplish this while remaining independent and owners of the networks they have built with sheer dint of hard work over the years.
Tony D’Silva, Managing Director, Grant Investrade Limited, said, “I am delighted to announce that our HITS initiative, called NXT DIGITAL, will strongly support the distribution fraternity in the laudable national mission to roll out Digital Addressable Systems of broadcasting all over India. DAS will not only empower, inform and entertain the consumers, but, through news, knowledge and infotainment will help them contribute to societal improvement and National economic growth.
“We will roll-out the services in August this year,” D’Silva said. “NXT DIGITAL is here to help the distribution fraternity in analog markets make a smooth and timely transition to digital, and we are hopeful it will help write what could perhaps be the biggest chapter in the Make in India story.”
NXT DIGITAL is an initiative of Grant Investrade Limited, which is a subsidiary of Hinduja Ventures Ltd. The Hinduja Group has made significant investments in the NXT DIGITAL platform - a state-of-the-art broadcast facility in Noida has been designed and purpose-built to provide top quality service to the entire country.
Satellite-based, NXT DIGITAL will have its footprint across India, and will be able to roll out its offerings across the Nation. However, in view of the deadline for DAS rollout, Grant Investrade Limited is focusing its awareness- and marketing drive on the opportunity to enable the distribution fraternity to provide digital services in the Phase 3 markets.
D’Silva said, “NXT DIGITAL will empower and enable the distribution fraternity including Last Mile Owners (LMOs) and MSOs to offer a world of exciting Digital services to their end-subscribers in all the analog households across markets. Crucially, NXT DIGITAL will not only help the LMOs and MSOs go digital as per government mandated standards and within the set deadlines, but, throughout the process, help them be independent and retain the ownership of their network.”
This has been made possible because when work first began on finalizing the NXT DIGITAL offerings, the company undertook in-depth research to find out the requirements of the distribution fraternity. It reached out to over 2000 LMOs, MSOs and their representatives across 120 cities in Phase 3 and 4 markets, and asked each, separately and in person, what they wished they could be able to do with their businesses when it was time to offer television broadcasting – along with other value-added services -- through encrypted digitally addressable systems.
“The research threw up six major requirements of the LMOs and MSOs,” D’Silva said, counting them out. “They wanted to retain ownership of their network; drive broadcaster deals; package and price their offerings according to the needs of their market; they wanted the facility to acquire Set Top Boxes (STBs) according to their convenience; the ability to insert local channels for their end-subscribers, and a sophisticated digital service that could help them compete with other digital platforms like DTH to ensure their digital offerings were future-ready so that their subscriber-bases would only grow.
“In other words, they wanted to remain independent, own their network, and go digital as per government norms and within the deadlines,” D’Silva said. “That is why we designed NXT DIGITAL to offer a choice of two different service models per their requirements: a white label service model and a full service model.”
By signing up for a NXT DIGITAL service, a network owner in a Phase 3 market can be saved the burden of having to make huge investments in the technology and highly skilled manpower required to convert his analog households to digital. A NXT DIGITAL headend will help them provide 500+ MPEG-4 encrypted services including HD channels with the ability to insert local channels as per requirement, robust SD and HD STBs with PVR functionality, world-class conditional access and subscriber management systems, a 24x7 call centre in multiple languages for customer support, a user-friendly operator terminal and the ability to provide VAS, OTT and other add-on digital services as and when rolled out.
“We will take care of the entire infrastructure and backend including a call centre for customer service, while the network owner can concentrate on growing his business through managing his network, local channels deployment, broadcaster deals and more,” D’Silva said, adding, “Everything we do will be LMO- and MSO-focused.”
World-class technology partners: Some of the world’s most respected brands have partnered GIL to create the NXT Digital offering. These include prominent technology partners like Thaicom-7 for Satellite, C-Band Transponders; Nagravision DLK for CAS-embedded platform; OpenTV1 for Middleware; Hansen Technologies for Subscription Management System and Billing Solutions, and Changhong, Telesystems and others for STBs.
On the technical aspects, D’Silva said, “The planning, design and setup of the entire technology infrastructure of the NXT DIGITAL platform with world-class partners is future-ready and extremely robust, with multiple fail safes, to provide the best digital experiences and customer delight to the subscribers of the LMOs and MSOs. Our HITS platform is of a quality, scale and investment unprecedented in India, and has been made possible by our brilliant technology program managers – Castle Media Pvt Ltd and its team, led by Mr. Vynsley Fernandes, who has set up several world class operations in broadcasting and digital networks in India and overseas.”
NXT DIGITAL brand name and logo: The dynamic and futuristic brand logo of NXT DIGITAL has been designed by Chlorophyll, India's first end-to-end brand consultancy, which has defined and differentiated as many as 200 brands.
On why the brand has been named NXT DIGITAL, D’Silva said, “While HITS is the pipeline of content delivery, our offering will not be limited to encrypted television channels through digitally addressable systems. Instead, we will offer a rich bouquet of every kind of additional digital service such as VAS, OTT and others that will keep getting added. Hence, we decided to go with the name NXT DIGITAL, and both, the name and the logo represent the next level in the digital technology we will offer.”
“The eagle in flight symbolizes the empowered LMO/MSO who, thanks to the NXT DIGITAL offerings he can take to his end-subscribers, is ready to take off and soar into the skies as it were, with complete freedom and ownership, to achieve ever greater growth – in both, customer delight and business. The soaring eagle is also indicative of the reach of NXT DIGITAL,” explained Mr. D’silva.
Awareness drive: Grant Investrade Limited (GIL) has readied a pan-Indian awareness drive across markets, showcasing its services portfolio, technology capabilities and quality of services. The campaign will use all media consumed by this primary target audience, including but not limited to Radio, local-media and OOH.
The advantages of HITS and NXT Digital: HITS is a world-class technology which provides Television channels to cable operators through a satellite and enables wider reach. Not only this, cable TV services through HITS technology are acknowledged around the world for combining the benefits of both Cable and DTH at an economical price, and being able to surmount the technical challenges faced by cable and DTH services when it comes to consumer delight. Being on C band, NXT DIGITAL services will not face the problems of rain attenuation which often hits Ku-band based DTH signals during rainfall.
The NXT DIGITAL service will provide Television channels to cable operators through a satellite instead of the traditional cable television headend where multitudes of satellite dishes and antennas are used to grab cable stations from dozens of communication satellites. The low comparative capital investment is expected to be the biggest draw for the network owner, apart from the additional revenue opportunity through VAS services – something which is not possible with DTH. Hence the network owner will no longer have to worry about high investment costs to provide Digitised cable TV services.