DAS can be the gateway for broadband and VAS

GOA: Broadband and value-added services, suppressed revenue streams so far, will get a major boost as India advances towards digitisation of cable TV.

A few multi-system operators (MSOs) like Hathway Cable & Datacom and Ortel in Orissa have already invested in broadband but on the cable front it has largely been tapped by local cable operators. All MSOs, however, have expressed interest in developing it as a second major revenue source after they move into the new digital regime where they will have more direct control over the last mile customer.

Cable TV networks realise that in broadband and value-added services (Vas) they have a distinct advantage over DTH. In a digital addressable era, broadband and Vas will become an important differentiated offering.

Said NDS Country Head and GM - India Jayant Changrani, "The convergence of technologies will come into play after the introduction of DAS and service providers could take advantage of this. The service providers have to ultimately go by what the consumer wants and provide him Vas to be able to monetise the medium to increase revenues."
Changrani referred to the DVRs being made by NDS and hand-held boxes that could provide a gateway for gaming, Vas, chats and Wi-fi. He said the Hathway set-top boxes (STBs) already had the broadband advantage.

The Mosaic devices of NDS can help MSOs to configure some channels which he wants to push, he added. He was speaking at the first session on the second and concluding day of the Indian Digital Operators Summit (IDOS) 2012, organised by in partnership with Media Partners Asia.

Management Technologies director Rajiv Dahhad said MSOs being in the best position to move ‘fat pipes’ could help use the DAS penetration to bring in broadband, VAS and other services. Pricing will work if new content and new channels are introduced. There will be need for "field agent management solutions", he added. Broadcasters will benefit as they want less dependence on advertisement revenues and more inflow from subscriptions.

IBM India GM (Media and Entertainment) Vivek Prabhu said, "MSOs may also need to be trained in new fields such as Vas, billing and inventory as long as the costs were low. There was need for backhand infrastructure to study consumer habits."

Dilip Singh of JainHITS said DAS had to come, and the passing of laws had only expedited the process, something which had not happened when cable TV or private TV came into the country -- the law had followed the advent of these technologies. But the consumer will want much more than just TV signals or VAS, and digitisation will add value to lifestyles just as the mobiles had done.

Dolby Laboratories country manager Pankaj Kedia said television is ultimately an audio-visual and not just a visual unit and, therefore, sound plays a crucial role. Service providers often forget this aspect, but the customer cares for the sound quality.

Answering another aspect, he said pricing was a problem for the customers of LCOs, but those of DTH had already accepted this. He said customer awareness applications were needed if DAS had to be brought in.

Chrome Data Analytics and Media CEO Pankaj Krishna said broadcasters will gain by way of digital being able to carry more channels, but education has to be imparted to the viewer about DAS. This can either be by word of mouth or by branding, he added.

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