Hathway's digital CAS services in metros ushered in with grand celebration

NEW DELHI: The venue could have very well been the government-run Ashoka Hotel here where all official functions are held, and the event could have been one organised by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry. That is, if one goes by the array of top government officials present and the song-and-lighting-of-the-lamp routine.

(L-r) Hathway CEO K Jayaraman, I&B secretary Pawan Chopra, Hathway-promoter Rajan Raheja, I&B add secretary (broadcasting) Vijay Singh and Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea at the function

But it was a show of strength unveiled by the Rajan Raheja-promoted Hathway Cable and Datacom Pvt Ltd, a multi-system operator (MSO), which formally announced the rollout of its digital conditional access system (CAS) services in the three metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai at a star-studded function here.

In the zone wise rollout of CAS, Hathway would be providing its digital CAS in South Delhi, South Mumbai and entire city of Chennai with digital signal quality and value-added services like the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG).

According to Hathway's managing director and CEO K Jayaraman, "We have selected some of the world leaders in Cable TV solutions providers to upgrade our entire network to a digital one, complete with value-added services bringing to our subscribers an enhanced cable TV viewing experience. The overall conditional access, subscriber management system, set-top boxes (STB) and compression systems are tested by installing at numerous customers' locations at random in the cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai."

However, I&B ministry secretary Pawan Chopra's words at the function sent some signals of uncertainty when he said that everything (including CAS) "depended on God". But in the same vein he also stated that as far as the government is concerned, CAS rollout is on schedule from 1 September.

Those present during the inaugural function included Hathway-promoter Raheja, Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea (Star holds 26 per cent stake in Hathway), NDTV president Prannoy Roy, Zee Telefilms vice chairman Jawahar Goel, Discovery India MD Deepak Shourie, additional secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry Vijay Singh and joint secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry Rakesh Mohan, among others. Most of the distinguished guests present at the function supported CAS and eulogised the benefits of the system.

Just for records, Hathway has selected NDS (News Datacom Security), a News Corp company, as the prime systems integrator and technology provider for the digital network upgrade and will also oversee integration of the STB, compression systems and subscriber management systems. NDS' conditional access installation is completed with acceptance tests being carried out in the three cities.

For digital compression and delivery of channels, Hathway has selected Scientific Atlanta to set up Asia's one of its kind unit at Hathway for digital compression and transmission that can provide up to 1000 digital channels.

Currently Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are transmitting more than 35 pay channels through underground fibre across the cities. Hathway will be providing more than 55 analog free-to-air channels as transmitted in the existing scenario.

Hathway has chosen Entriq (formerly known as Mindport) as the SMS provider and all customisations as per scope has been completed, Jayaraman said. Hathway has also completed the SMS UAT (User Acceptance Test) with field tests conducted successfully on live customers in the three cities. Hathway has connected the metros with inter-city lease lines for a centralized Subscriber Management System.

Hathway has selected Humax of Korea as its principal vendor for supply of the boxes. Humax is one of the three largest box manufacturers in the world with a manufacturing capacity of 4.5 million boxes per annum in two production sites in Korea and the UK. The smart card-based boxes come with software upgradable features.

Apart from digital picture quality, Hathway through the Humax STB will provide advanced features like NDS-developed Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) which allows the viewer to access content, synopsis of current or upcoming programmes and even reserve a programme for future viewing ushering a new era of world class TV viewing.

Hathway is distributing its cable TV signals through the underground fiber optic networks of Bharti (in Delhi) and Tata Power Broadband (in Mumbai). It has located optic fibre nodes at various points in the network, which substantially improves the quality of television signal and also enable distribution of other valued added services.

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