NDS expands Indian ops with new office in Mumbai

MUMBAI: With Conditional acces coming in next year and DTH taking hold in the country the time is right for television technology firms to take a serious look at India. One such firm is the News Corp owned NDS, which provides technology solutions for digital pay-TV.

It has opened a dedicated sales and support operation in Mumbai. NDS chairman and CEO Dr Abe Peled, said, "NDS has had a research and development facility in Bangalore for over five years. This has grown to nearly 600 employees. NDS Bangalore is pivotal in our ability to roll out state-of-the-art technologies, such as advanced middleware solutions, digital video recorders (DVR) and interactive TV applications, to some of the world's largest broadcasters.

"The opening of the NDS Mumbai office, is in recognition that the Indian market itself is ready for the wide-scale deployment of digital pay-TV. NDS has been growing at a compound rate of 15 per cent. We have 66.6 million active Smart Cards using our VideoGuard for conditional access globally. Our middleware is present in 45 million set top boxes. 4.2 million of our Digital Video Recorder (DVR) software has been shipped. Our innovation in DVR shows that we are ken on merging technologies. DVR marks a fundamental change in how people watch television. This basically is a shift from a time viewing paradigm to a content viewing one. "

As of now NDS has two clients in India - the Tata Sky direct to home (DTH) service and MSO Hathway Cable Datacom. A point of note is that both companies are News Corp affiliates by virtue of the fact that Star has a 20 per cent equity in Tata Sky and a 26 per cent stake in Hathway.

Peled claims that NDS provides a competitive advantage because its services go beyond just securing content. "Our message to the cable fraternity is that you cannot afford not to have NDS. There is this notion that we are expensive. But when we have dialogues with them I think that they will be surprised at our edge. After all it is a long term investment for them and it is important to choose the right partner."

30 per cent of NDS' revenue goes into research and development activities says Peled. NDS India VP, GM Vladimir Ruppo says that the Bangalore center is fully responsible for delivery and product ownership. "The focus is on the Mediahighway middleware which is a software glue within the set top box and can also act as an end to end solution. It is built on Modular Architecture and can work on any set top box. It has already been integrated with 60 set top box vendors. Right now the Bangalore center is working on
developing a new Elecvtroni9c programme Guide (EPG).

"This solution is aimed at allowing a broadcaster to make dynamic changes and also the user can have a richer experience. The subscriber will be allowed to choose his/ her EPG scheme. The Bangalore office is also working an a solution for enabling mobile TV and also on high definition. It can also offer an end to end IPTV solution which will offer IP connectivity."

Coming back to its existing deals in India NDS end-to-end systems are deployed by Tata Sky to offer a range of digital and interactive TV services that give their subscribers greater choice, control and convenience. The NDS systems deployed include NDS VideoGuard conditional access solution (CAS),MediaHighway middleware, and a bouquet of interactive

TV applications including the electronic programme guide (EPG) for viewer navigation. The PEG was customised to suit the broadcaster's requirements.

For example there is a favourite channels feature which offers a display of key channels. Then there is the parental control feature which allows for disabling of channels deemed inappropriate for children by their parents. The EPG also sports multi lingual capabilities. So a bradcaster can offer a feed in multiple languages and the user can select accordingly. There is also fingerprinting to combat piracy.NDS points out that the main aim was to make the EPG simple use for anyone from 7-70 years of age. For Hathway NDS provided a customised EPG.

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