Cable TV

Hathway's digital cable service to hit the market by October end

MUMBAI: Hathway Cable & Datacom is preparing for a digital cable television rollout by October-end with 140 channels in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

This will entail an additional expense of about Rs 70 million , outside the Rs 1 billion investment incurred for the conditional access system (CAS). Under the CAS preparation, Hathway had readied for a 40-channel headend.

The digital set-top boxes (STBs) will be sold at Rs 3,150 plus local sales tax. There will be no rental scheme, at least initially. In Chennai, where CAS is mandatory for viewing of pay channels, Hathway offers consumers both a monthly rental and an outright purchase scheme for its STBs.

"We are pushing for voluntary CAS. We aim at penetrating 8 per cent of our cable TV subscribers in the three metros within one year. We have subscribers in upmarket areas in these cities who may switch from analogue to our digital service," says Hathway Cable & Datacom chief executive officer K Jayaraman.

Hathway has 185,000 STBs but has only managed to deploy 6,000-7,000 boxes in Chennai. The company hopes digital quality picture, additional channels, stereophonic sound and an electronic programming guide (EPG) will lure consumers to switch over. Under the analogue service, Hathway offers 70-80 channels. The monthly cable TV subscription fee will be the same for both the analogue and digital services.

Though Hathway will offer 140 channels under its digital cable TV service, the STBs are capable of receiving 500 channels. Hathway is also exploring the possibility of tying up with niche content channels.

Hathway has procured the equipment and the whole set up is currently being erected, says Jayaraman. "Commissioning engineers from Scientific Atlanta have already reached and trial runs will start from 15 October," he adds.

Hathway is working out incentive schemes for its franchise operators to deploy the digital STBs. "We are finalising on the terms. We will offer our local operators and joint venture partners an incentive per box deployed," says Jayaraman.

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