Cable TV

Meghbela Cable to seed 10 lakh STBs in West Bengal by December-end

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KOLKATA: Multi-system operator (MSO) Meghbela Cable & Broadband Services aims to seed 10 lakh set-top boxes in areas earmarked for digitisation in phase III and phase IV.

The company has already installed around 1.26 lakh STBs in Kolkata city, where digitisation of cable TV services happened in phase I.

Seeding of 10 lakh STBs will involve an expenditure of Rs 110 crore.

While in areas which fall under DAS III and IV areas like Haldia, Bankura, Arambagh and Hooghly, the company has 10 lakh cable TV subscribers and the majority of them are on the analogue network.

When asked about the source of funding for the 10 lakh STBs, Meghbela Cable Chairman, Indranil Bhattacharya, said 80 per cent of the cost of the STBs would come from the local cable operators (LCOs) who would be collecting the amount from their subscribers. The remaining 20 per cent would be arranged by Meghbela through loans from banks.

“In DAS III and DAS IV areas, we have already started the digitisation process,” said Bhattacharya.

“Our digital customer base is around two lakh now,” said Bhattacharya.

“In phase III and IV, the company is looking at a market share of 8-10 per cent, which is achievable,” industry experts said.

The company has four digital head-ends in different parts of West Bengal with more than 7,500 km of optic fiber and coaxial networks providing cable TV services. “With a plan to expand operations at Durgapur and Purulia, we are looking at two interconnected digital head ends in Kolkata,” he said.

The company’s chairman further said the company apart from providing channel packages to the customers in Kolkata, did sign the revenue sharing agreements with LCOs and has raised the bill as per the packages chosen by subscribers from the month of August.

Talking about the prospects in DAS III and DAS IV areas in the state, he said there is an opportunity to seed 1 crore STBs in the state by December 2014.

Meghbela Digital TV Services currently offers 500 channels. It plans to expand its capacity to 781 channels going ahead.

Meghbela Digital has been equipped with technical capability for providing services in digital form along with features like music on demand (MoD), video on demand (VoD), pay per view (PPV), STB supported gaming and electronic programming guide (EPG), he added.

Talking about the company’s ISP business, he said the company offers services such as broadband, leased line, VPN etc.

Industry experts said since Meghbela Digital has interconnected head-ends, it can easily make its affiliated LCOs serve customers well.

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