While addressing an informal press meet in Mumbai, Hathway Cable
and Datacom vice-president Neeraj Bhatia claimed: "Indian cable
operators have this amazing knack of entrepreneurship. We feel that
the cable trade is well-equipped to convert customers. History will
repeat itself and they will perform the same miracles that they
did in the early 1990s."
According to Bhatia: " Last time around, they (the cable ops)
did it without training or adequate support. This time, we shall
support them with training in the form of seminars and workshops.
Moreover, they have gained in experience and business acumen. They
will do a much better job this time around."
Hathway is importing the STBs from abroad and all of them will
conform to the BIS standards. In phase I, the boxes will be basic
versions and will have certain inbuilt
However, speaking on the pricing of the set top boxes, Bhatia felt:
"It will be difficult to maintain the cost of the digital set-top
box (STB) around the Rs 3,500 mark. The STB will attract a basic
duty of 25 per cent with a CVD (countervailing duty) of 16 per cent
and a SAD (special additional duty) of 4 per cent taking the total
customs duty to 50.8 per cent. In addition, in Mumbai, the additional
duties, including sales taxes, will take the levies to around 82.5
per cent. It is estimated that a digital box will cost around Rs
5,000 in a city like Mumbai."
"Again, it depends on volumes. If volumes are high, we can
look at a slightly lesser rate. But at present, it is difficult
to get a fix on the volumes due to the uncertain prevailing conditions.
Demand estimation is the most important aspect of the implementation
process," Bhatia said, adding, several estimates are floating
around but the exact number will be clear once the cable operators
start visiting households and collect on-ground feedback.
Bhatia also added that Hathway will also be ready to buy back boxes
at a subsidised rate.
Bhatia referred to some reports from TAM India and IMRB which have
indicated that the total number of boxes required will be 6.7 million
in the four metros (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai). He clarified:
"There may be some doubts raised on this number as adjoining
areas to the four metros - like Thane and Navi Mumbai near Mumbai;
Gurgaon and NOIDA on the outskirts of Delhi; and Ambatur near Chennai
- have not yet included in the first phase of rollout."
Bhatia also said that industry reports indicated that that Kolkata
and Chennai might require relatively lesser boxes because the FTA
channels (Doordarshan and Eenadu TV) 'seemed' to be more popular
amongst the viewers of television in those cities vis-a-vis Mumbai
Dwelling on commissions to be given to the cable operators, Bhatia
stated: "The commissions will be determined in close consultations
amongst the broadcasters, MSOs and the cable operators. At Hathway,
we are firm believers of the fact that each chain or link of the
cable trade must get a fair share of the total revenues."
Hathway ready to meet
CAS deadline; invests Rs 120-150m per city
Future belongs to the
consumer: Hathway's Neeraj Bhatia