Sun Direct to add 9 transponders by June

MUMBAI: Direct to home (DTH) operator Sun Direct is looking at increasing its high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) channel offering. The DTH operator that currently has four transponders will soon add nine more transponders to its kitty, thanks to the deal signed between Sun Direct and MEASAT Satellite Systems.

The announcement comes after Sun Direct got a nod from Antrix Corporation for additional capacity. The platform currently has 11 HD and 210 SD channels. “We had applied to Antrix and have got its approval. With this, we will be shifting to MEASAT 3b and hence, will get nine transponders by first week of June. Our HD offering is currently low, but with the extra capacity we aim to take it to 30, while we expect the number of SD channels to go up to 350,” informs Sun Direct MD Mahesh Kumar.

With this, the total number of transponders will go up to 13. “While we are currently focused on the south market, we can think of targeting other regions after this boost. We will first fill the gaps in our south offering and the HD channel offering,” he adds.

The increase in the capacity is not the only change the DTH platform is looking at. It was in October 2013 that Sun Direct had announced that it would be launching 500 ‘Sunshine’ centers across south India to improve its customer’s service needs. “Of the 500 ‘Sunshine’ centers, we have already launched 200 centers in eight months,” says Kumar.

The core aim of these ‘Sunshine’ stores will be to provide customer service, while new connections, demo and recharges will also be available. The stores that have been set up in every district are based on franchisee model. “While the cost for setting up of these stores is being borne by the franchisee, we will be investing for the backend support,” informs Kumar.

The DTH operator has also introduced a tri-partite conference call service. This 24X7 service hotline number: 076010-12345 which will be manned round the clock will ensure that customer grievances are addressed within 48 hours. “We have started a conference call facility between the company, engineer and the customer. Post the grievance is registered and dealt with, a customer satisfaction survey will also be conducted,” he says.

Sun Direct is spending approximately Rs 25 crore ($4 million) on the backend support.  According to Kumar, currently the ‘Sunshine’ centre witnesses 50 customers per day per store. The revenue model for the business will depend on the business each store generates.

The ‘Sunshine’ centers that have been designed by JWT, have a standard format, with store dimensions ranging between 150 and 300 sq ft, depending upon the requirements of the specific town. “The stores have standard colour code which is in line with Sun Direct,” informs Kumar.

Will we see such centers in other parts of the country as well? Says Kumar, “Currently we are looking at strengthening our service in south, once we get the extra transponders and hence more channels, we can think of other region as well.”

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