CQ: Can SITI Cable meet the Phase III & IV deadlines?
VD Wadhwa: We at SITI are committed to adhere to the deadlines and have already undertaken voluntary digitization in our phase 3 & 4 markets. Industry as a whole too is geared up for the big leap. Sooner the digitization is completed, faster the industry would start reaping its benefits.
CQ. Has the digitisation of Phase I & II cities benefited consumers as expected?
VD Wadhwa: Digitization of Cable TV was envisaged with the focus on providing better picture & sound quality, more number of channel & services and choice in choosing the channels the consumers wants to watch. With the seeding of STB the consumers now have an access to more than 400 channels & services in digital quality picture & sound. Various tier packages & channels on A-La-Carte mode have put the power to pick and choose channel in the hands of the consumers. He now pays for what he wants to watch.
CQ: What are the major problems faced in the Phase III markets?
VD Wadhwa: DAS phase 3 & 4 markets are significantly low ARPU markets compared to DAS phase 1 & 2. At the same time broadcasters are pricing the content in these markets at par to the phase 1 & 2 areas which creates a challenge for the business proposition to be worked out. The content cost should commensurate to the income from these markets; hence, rationalization of content cost is something that we are looking from the broadcasters. In addition, Phase 3 & 4 markets are geographically very widespread across the country. Carrying of digital signals through IP feed in remote areas or areas with scanty HH to serve and handling of STBs also creates a logistical challenge thereby confronting business sense to be feasible in some areas.
CQ: What problems are in integrating last mile networks?
VD Wadhwa: SITI Cable had connected the last mile through overhead network but in some areas poles were not available. After some time, the overhead was converted to underground to provide quality signals.
CQ: Any problems in revenue sharing?
VD Wadhwa: LCO is the key element of cable TV ecosystem. He owns the last mile connectivity and brings the money in the system from the consumers. Apart from sharing subscription revenue as per the guidelines laid by TRAI, we have gone a step further and are sharing the carriage revenue also with our LCOs in phase 1 markets.
CQ: Are you providing broadband service to consumers?
VD Wadhwa: We are providing broadband services using DOCSIS 2.0/3.0 (Data over Cable Service Interface Specification) technology which is capable of delivering speed up to 100 Mbps. DOCSIS allows us to offer broadband services with bandwidth far superior than mobile internet service providers or any other competing technology.
CQ: Do you think changes in some regulations will make the migration easy?
VD Wadhwa: The industry is levied with dual taxation i.e. entertainment tax and service tax. Rationalization of taxes and implementation of GST is the most sought after regulation that the industry is seeking currently.
CQ: Are consumers aware of the a-la-carte options and exercising their right?
VD Wadhwa: In phase I & II markets consumers have opted for different tier packages in combination with A-La-Carte channels. In fact SITI is the only company to have implemented packaging in most of its areas of operation.
As per the regulation, Basic Service Tier pack comprising of FTA channels are also available for SITI subscribers but, very few customers opt for BST as most of the popular entertainment channels are pay and do not form the part of the package.