Cas success lures foreign investors: Trai advisor

NEW DELHI: The conditional access system implementation "has been a huge success story", and the proof of this lies in the fact that in the past few weeks, three major delegations from foreign investment portfolio management companies have approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, according to Trai‘s advisor RN Choubey.

Though Choubey did not wish to reveal the names of the companies - one of them being from Singapore, he did say that they all had portfolios worth a billion dollars to invest, and had come here because with Cas in place, they see a vast level of certainty being introduced in the previously shapeless and non-addressable cable TV market in India.

Choubey, who made these observations in an intercation with yesterday, said Cas was spreading out beyond the designated areas and being implemented voluntarily in some places. Said Choubey: "The largest MSO in Pune has introduced Cas on its own, without waiting for government support, because that is not a designated Caa city, and in Orissa too, a company called Ortel is introducing Cas in some of the cities in the state."


These are developments over the past 20 days, he said, clarifying, however, that in these areas the price will be determined by market play and pay channels would not be available for Rs 5 as in the case of the mandated areas of south of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

MSOs operating in the mandated areas are free to sell or rent STBs to any of the areas, and neither Trai nor the government would stop them, drawing attention to the fact that the I&B minister had recently gone on record that the government would like to extend Cas.

He denied that there has been a slowdown in Cas, arguing that what the market is seeing now is a plateau.

"There has been no slowdown," he asserted, saying the figures till 6 March shows that in the mandated areas, 503,000 boxes have been seeded in the three metros and the daily rate of new connections stands at around 1,000.


South Delhi has seen 214,000 boxes being seeded so far, with Mumbai taking marginally higher, 239,000 till date.

Explaining the relative lukewarm growth in Kolkata, he said it has followed somewhat the Chennai model, where the choice vernacular channels are all FTA.

He admitted that as per the TAM reports, the cable TV universe in the Cas designated parts of the three metros is about 1.6 million. Of this, less than a third of them are on STBs. He however argued that with 1,000 STB seedings daily, and with more than 185,000 boxes available with the MSOs, there is neither any shortage of boxes nor of demand.

Pressed about the plateau appears to have been reached, he ascribed it as being because customers are taking time to make up their minds.

On the issue of Quality of Service, Choubey revealed that the MSOs have been asked to send the results of their surveys, and these are done on a quarterly basis, so the first survey results would be available some time in April.

But would those be foolproof?

"There are a dozen parameters on QoS," Choubey says, and we shall check the results. Their statements are verifiable because there would be SMS data.

"But if we suspect something, if we feel that the data is not correct, Trai itself shall launch a door-to-door survey when it feels necessary."


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