CQ: Congrats for the National licence, we understand DDC placed a large order for STBs to be deployed in Phase III of digitalisation.
Ravi: Yes it is true. We have placed an order for 1 Million + Set Top Boxes on an international vendor. These are all MPEG4 HD STBs since we believe that our subscribers deserve the best in terms of Quality and Content.
CQ: Where all and how do you think you will be able to deploy them?
Ravi: We are expanding our network pan India, covering our associates, distributors and franchisees already severed by us.
CQ: HD Boxes are quite expensive! How will you manage the content?
Ravi: We shall be subsidising them. We currently carry 30+ HD Channels and in a short time this number will grow. We expect more people to subscribe HD packages in near future. Some content we intend to cablecast will reallyspell bound our viewers.
CQ: Seems to be good strategy but in short term it could prove costly.
Ravi: Yes, it may appear so; but once VAS are introduced, these may compensate more than one imagines today. Initially we shall bundle broadband Internet service to our subscribers over FTTH. Upgrading the Access network to an FTTH Network should not cost fortune. In this case LCOs may not be asked to invest huge sums. Once the network is capable of delivering broadband services the VAS are limitless and will profitability and improve the user experience?
CQ: What are your other plans to improve the profitability and improve the user experience?
Ravi: We have already tested the Multi Screen encoding and successfully demonstrated that Live TV channels can be delivered to multiple devices on WiFi in home and out of home. Besides, we intend to launch OTT services that would include Digital Storefront, Digital Locker, Shopping Carts, Multi Player On line Games etc.
CQ: On Consumer front; what are your plans in terms of quality, CRM, affordability etc.
Ravi: We always give highest priority to consumers. We installed a state of the art digital Headend a few years ago ensuring highest quality and reliability. A 24x7 call centre has also been established. BECIL certified the HE and audited post certification, broadcasters also have been auditing and even TRAI had audited. As for affordability, we have been strictly following TRAI guide lines and the market forces have been keeping all MSOs on their toes. In Phase III we have no plans to increase the burden on the LCOs.
CQ: What do you think where the Cable TV industry is heading to? What is your take on mergers and acquisitions?
Ravi: It is evident that changes taking place in the closely associated sectors will effect this industry top. Big Fish eating Small Fish has been a natural phenomenon. However, when Small Fish go together, no one dares to yet than. LCOs and IMSOs have to form larger groups in their territories and offer services. Digitalisation involves and entails huge capex which can't be easily organized on their own unless they join hands.
Secondly both TSPs & ISPs have realized that it is LCO who has the last mile access network, that too wireline which is already delivering Broadband and is capable to be converted to the ultimate broadband service. They know by using their backhaul, they can deliver all other services such as Education, Health, Governance, Security, Trade & Commerce and what not on this last mile.
CQ: A last Comment!
Ravi: Thanks, CQ has been the voice of LCOs & MSOs. It has been rendering Yeoman service to the Cable Industry and has always stood fast for their cause. Salute to Col Sharma and the CQ Team in real Fauji Style.