KOLKATA: As the digitisation of cable TV across regions mounts up, the multi-system operator SitiCable Network which has seeded around 1.7 million set top boxes (STB) in the eastern region plans to install another 1.5 million more STBs by December 2014 in the region.
For this, the company has allotted Rs 300 crore. The company pays around Rs 2,000 per STB to import it from the Korean and Chinese markets.
West Bengal is one of the most important markets in the eastern region for the company. SitiCable has a good presence in Bihar with strong hold in and around Patna, Odisha and Jharkhand. And out of the seven northern eastern states, it is present in six states.
Cable TV networks across India have been mandated to go digital by December 2014, which entails that cable TV signals may be received only through STB. “Eastern region accounts for around 40 per cent of the revenue to SitiCable and it is one of the important markets for the company,” said some of the cable TV analysts.
SitiCable Kolkata director Suresh Sethia, said: “We aim to seed another 1.7 million set top boxes (STB) in the eastern region by December 2014.”
Talking about the procurement trends for STBs in the eastern region, he said customers prefer activation package as it is cheaper either costing Rs 999 or Rs 1,199 respectively.
He further remarked that with the depreciation of the rupee, importing STBs has become costlier.
Of the nine MSOs, SitiCable controls a substantial share of cable TV users in Kolkata (phase 1). The MSO has set up around 11.5 lakh digital addressable system (DAS).
Talking about the phase two of the digitisation process where the company has seeded STBs, Sethia said that in Howrah (West Bengal) they have already digitised all the connections. In Patna (Bihar), around 90 per cent of the work is done. “In Patna SAF (subscribers’ application form) work is on. Direct billing will start soon. Other MSOs are slow there,” he said.
The company has a 55 per cent market share in Patna. “Out of 2.65 lakh STBs, SitiCable has seeded more than 1.55 lakh boxes,” he said.
Speaking about the Kolkata operations, he said the company has not yet started direct billing but is hopeful of beginning the process by the mid November.