Broadband Pacenet braces itself for the convergence era

MUMBAI: Convergence in the country is going to be a reality sooner than later. Broadband services provider Broadband Pacenet is coming out with its latest project in May and involves the television set being used as a computer as well.

The company will launch its set top box Home Genie.

Addressing a small media gathering this afternoon Broadband Pacenet India chairman Jagjit Singh Kohli said, " In the first year we expect to sell a minimum of a million units. Right now we are talking with all the parties in the industry including the MSOs, broadcasters. It is a TV plus device and not a computer minus product. Out targetted consumers are those who cannot afford a computer or who are unfamiliar with it. Right now we are testing 1000 boxes. We are expecting revenue growth to the tune of 500 per cent for the company. Before too long the number of consumers with set top boxes will outnumber those with computers. Among other things the box allows people to send emails, surf, watch television and play online games. "

The box uses royalty free open standard conditional access technology for an internet environment called Secura. Kohli added that the Cas imbroglio would never have happened had the government mandated that an open standard be used. He added that the government was making the same mistake with DTH by insisting that all the boxes use a DVBCI interface. This pushes up the cost of the boxes. In fact Pacenet is meeting the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India tomorrow on this very issue.

" Of course Home Genie box can also be used with NDS, Canal Plus or any of the other pay TV technologies. These technologies are most unreliable. They get hacked within a couple of years and the consumer gets gypped with promises of a more secure advanced version. In fact none of the six pay television technology companies offer any guarantee that their products will not get hacked in the future. The cost to install those technologies runs into millions of dollars. So it is a racket that is basically going on with the companies trading piracy allegations against one another"

The Home Genie box will initially be priced at Rs. 5000. As more features like personal video recording are added the price will go up to a maximum of Rs. 8000. However as volumes increase the price will come down Kohli added. One of the unique features of Home Genie is that it has both the ethernet network and coxial cable. This means that both cable systems and DTH satellite will work. It wil have a 40bps downstream pipe along with a 100mbps two way interactive pipe. It also has a peoplemeter built in to it. In this way Pacenet can work out promotional deals with broadcasters as they will have an exact idea of how much their channels are being watched.

Talking about Reliance which recently made a huge presentation at the Frames Convention Kohli said, " Reliance's STB does not have the coxial interface as yet. They are trying to provide everything like data, voice and video through ethernet. While they are working on IPTV the fact is that IP for video is evolving more for services like video on demand. So far simulating cable TV on an IP platform has not been done anywhere in the world. It will take time for Reliance to get there. For us the advantage is that cable internet is already there in most homes in Mumbai. All we are doing is laying an ethernet network over it. With Reliance the whole infrastructure will have to be over hauled. In fact if a cable operator ties up with a telco he will be rendered redundant as his existing equipment will not be used."

Kohli also said that unlike Reliance the company did not have to worry about laying fibre optic cables throughout the country thanks to the recent tie up with Ipstar. This is the worlds first two way satellite system and provides a two way IP link. This will allow Pacenet to reach any part of the country.

Coming back to Home Genie Kohli said that it also serves as a home banking terminal. The card was developed by Zero a consortium which develops solutions for smart card payments. RBI and SBI have given the product their consent. The card has money on the chip itself, which ensures that the money only travels locally. It can also work as a credit and debit card by accessing your bank account. Once the transaction has been authenticated the card returns to its original place.

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