7 Star to offer consultancy for cable ops

For the harried small cable op in India, flustered by the myriad possibilities of conditional access and Internet over cable, help is at hand.

Shamim Shaikh, managing director of the most proactive cable TV network coalitions in India - the Seven Star Cable Network which controls around 20 per cent of Mumbai's cable TV viewing populace, is launching a consultancy for cable ops. The consultancy will help the cable op choose between the right hardware for his system from the bewildering array available currently.

"While vendors are merely interested in pushing their wares, mostly imported, cable ops are often not clear about their requirements and end up investing huge amounts in outdated or irrelevant technology," he says. Seven Star - an agglomeration of nine once-independent cable TV systems - was the first Indian CATV networks to install an addressable system in subscribers' homes way back in 1999. Shaikh, who consequently has a wealth of experience to bank on, now plans to disburse his knowledge with the vast scattered community of cable ops in the country. 

"I don't want the cable ops to repeat the mistakes we made", says Shaikh, pointing out that most small time cable ops invest huge amounts from their own pockets in putting up systems like Internet over cable and then run the risk of incompatibility. Hardware like switches, amplifiers, even optic fibre needs to be such that it is upgradable and compatible to the Indian conditions, says Shaikh. The novice cable op often trusts the vendors and ends up with the wrong product, he says. Shaikh himself had burnt his fingers with a CMTS system in which Seven Star invested nearly Rs 5 million some years ago. Several cable ops also stand the risk of being stuck with set top boxes which may not work efficiently in Indian conditions as well as with ISPs who may not be ideal for their networks, he says.

Shaikh, who already has clients in Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka, now plans to open an office in Mumbai to cater to domestic cable ops. 

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