Hathway Cable & Datacom drops set-top box prices, offers easy instalment

MUMBAI: Cable TV networks are slashing prices and working out consumer friendly schemes to push their digital set-top boxes (STBs), ahead of the launch of Tata Sky's direct-to-home (DTH) service next year.

Hathway Cable & Datacom has dropped the price of its STBs by about Rs 600 while also offering an easy instalment scheme to entice its subscribers to migrate from the analogue to the digital service. Subscribers can pay in equal instalments of Rs 100 spread over 24 months. They will, however, have to make an upfront payment of Rs 1,000. The total cost of the digital STB, thus, works out to Rs 3,400, lower than the earlier price.

"We are not only dropping prices but are also offering longish instalment periods to make it attractive for consumers to move to our digital service," says Hathway Cable & Datacom CEO K Jayaraman. In Hathway's earlier scheme, consumers had to pay in four instalments.

"We have introduce this first in our primary points. We are also willing to stretch this scheme to our last mile operator areas provided there is an assurance of collection," says Jayaraman.

Hathway has sold 30,000 digital boxes, an uptake which has been slow. The multi system operator (MSO) believes it can push its STBs faster with more attractive pricing and packaging to the consumers. "We were not very aggressive in our marketing this year. We will correct that in 2006. Cross selling, promotion, better marketing and pricing will have to be used to make digital cable acceptable," says Jayaraman.

InCablenet is also planning to launch new schemes. "We are working on a new plan which we will launch in January. We will also focus in marketing our digital product," says Incablenet head Ravi Mansukhani.

Cable networks will face competition from DTH operators as issues over interconnect and sharing of content get sorted out.

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