Cable TV

Government should set aside Rs 10,000 crore for cable modernisation: Arvind Prabhoo

MUMBAI: The seed of the dream of seeing a ‘Digital India’ was sown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as he took charge to make India a better and developed country. And now to make this dream come true are the cable TV operators, who are looking at achieving this through cable TV transformation.

In keeping with this, Maharashtra Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhoo has already sent a presentation to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) to not only update them of the needs of the industry, but also how the government could help push the agenda.

According to Prabhoo, the sector needs regulatory support. This includes cable Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence on soft terms, last mile cable operator licensing, price control on content and level playing field for domestic voice over IP (VoIP). The MCOF president has also requested the Ministry for infrastructure support including long haul fibre and BSNL networking sharing, innovative per customer/month fees and cable modernisation fund. With the industry moving to a whole new system of cable TV viewing, the industry needs re-skilling and incentives for innovations.    

MCOF in its proposition to the I&B has also said that the government needs to become the national data pipe in order to act as a digital courier. “Set one country, one service, one price,” informed Prabhoo. 

Not only this, the government should look at setting aside a cable modernisation fund of around Rs 10,000 crore. Of this, according to Prabhoo, Rs 4000 crore will be used in set top box (STB) financing at Rs 300 per SD STB, Rs 5500 crore at Rs 600 per home passed will be used in infrastructure upgrade and Rs 500 crore will be used towards technology R&D. “The Ministry could fund the industry for a tenure of five years. With this funding, the government will be the biggest beneficiary as it would be collecting taxes on the funds,” opined Prabhoo.

Cable TV currently reaches to close to 60 per cent homes (12 crore) of which around 9 crore are in DAS phase III and IV areas. “The sector which has a workforce of close to 300,000, has the potential to serve some 50 crore data users,” he added.

In the presentation to the Ministry, MCOF has also highlighted the challenges faced by the digital India. These include the high customer acquisition cost, resulting in unavailability of basic data services, shortages in last mile local loop and predominance of concrete in civil structures which is eroding fidelity of wireless services.

“We had sent the presentation to the Ministry for a robust cable TV industry, but have not heard from them so far,” concluded Prabhoo.

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