Cable Quest spoke to the founder CEO of Lukup Media, Mr Kallol Borah to understand the operation of an IP based MSO network and why did he select this technology. Here are the excerpts…..
CQ: Please tell us about your company, its existing operations and what made you go for the MSO license to distribute TV channels.
Kallol: Lukup Media operates India’s first on demand and multi-screen TV service. The company designs, develops, manufactures, distributes and services its products. It was set up in 2010 to challenge the way content is delivered and consumed on a range of devices like mobile phones, televisions and connected devices. Lukup Media works with content providers and broadband providers to deliver its broadband network based service that also brings a host of new entertainment channels to India.
The company started its journey by launching India’s first interactive advertising platform on satellite and cable TV platforms in 2011 in partnership with leading service providers and broadcast channels. Lukup Media also launched a push advertising platform for mobile devices in 2012.
CQ: Will you be connecting subscribers directly or use LCOs in the last mile. If you use the LCOs do you envisage any problem in LCOs adopting your technology to provide broadband and Cable TV services on the same cable?
Kallol: We have already signed up with about 200 LCOs to provide our services. We do not face any problem in convincing them to use our technology as they are used to working on Fibre Optic cables and many of them are also familiar with Ethernet over Cable Technology that we use in our last mile.
CQ: Is there is any modification required in an existing LCO network to get connected to your network?
Kallol: No there is nothing much required. We only use a media converter at the LCOs control room to convert optical signals to Ethernet. Rest, LCO carries our signal to consumers on his HFC network. We use CAT5 cable to connect the last mile at customer premises. LCOs can even provide our service in addition to his conventional service received from any other MSO. They require only a spare fiber cable, which they normally have to carry our services.
CQ: What kind of CPE is required in your network and what is the cost that subscriber has to bear.
Kallol: At the subscriber end we deploy a home- gateway instead of an STB. This home- gateway does three functions.
1. Demodulates Cable TV signals to RF for TV set.
2. Acts as broadband router to provide broadband signal.
3. It is an access device providing both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity with display devices. Thus a consumer can use his Smart TV, laptop, smart phone or any connected device to view as well control the content.
4. It is a dual-HD product with provision to record upto 500 GB of content.
At present, the Home-Gateway or Lukup Player as we call it, is priced at Rs. 9000, however, it is quite competitive, considering its multiple utility. We are already in talks with financing companies to provide this to consumers on EMI of Rs 350-400.
CQ: How many subscribers you have been able to connect so far?
Kallol: We plan to connect about 1.8 million subscribers through our LCO networks once we receive our MSO licence. At present we are carrying out trials. We are still negotiating for content with many broadcasters but are in a position to roll-out our services very soon.
CQ: What problems are you facing in negotiating with broadcasters? Are they familiar with distribution on an IP network?
Kallol: We have been dealing with broadcasters since long for our OTT services, so negotiating for content is not a problem at present.
CQ: In what way do you feel your IP based distribution is better than conventional DOCSIS system?
Kallol: Conventional MSO networks are mostly ‘one way’ as the last mile networks in the country are all one way. However, the moment we go on IP, two way interaction is normal. IP is also the future of content distribution technologies. So, upgrading our services in the future will not be a problem.
CQ: How much does a subscriber pay for your services?
Kallol: At present, our starting price is Rs. 990 as bundled price for broadband as well as linear TV. In this plan , the subscriber gets 30 GB broadband data and a credit of Rs. 300 for content. This credit can be used by the subscriber to consume an a la carte package or they can use this to view content on- demand.