MSOs on prowl, Incablenet to support Home Cable in Delhi

MUMBAI: Conditional access system (Cas) is forcing multi-system operators (MSOs) to strike alliances as they take up the challenge of expanding their digital subscribers.

The latest to join hands is Incablenet and Vikki Choudhry's Home Cable Network. Incablenet will be supplying its feed and digital set-top boxes (STBs) to the subscribers of Home Cable Network in South Delhi.

"We have entered into a strategic alliance with Incablenet. They will be providing STBs to our subscribers. For those consumers who want to take our advanced boxes which are priced at Rs 2150, we will be providing them our systems. Others will have an option to take the Incablenet STBs," says Choudhry.

Incablenet uses a different encryption system and its boxes will not support the feed from Home Cable Network. "We have agreed to share each others fibre and infrastructure as we go ahead," says Choudhry.

Incablenet offers subscribers digital STBs at Rs 1500 (plus taxes) while cable TV subscription is free for six months on three bouquet packages. Home Cable, on the other hand, has an outright purchase scheme with the STB priced at Rs 2150. It offers 10 pay channels on a monthly subscription fee of Rs 45 while the 60-channel package is available for Rs 225.

"Smaller MSOs in the Cas areas will find it difficult to subsidise the boxes and will take support of the bigger ones. Besides, they do not have enough boxes and know that any delay will mean that their subscribers will go away to other available options," says an analyst who tracks the cable industry.

Earlier, Wire & Wireless India Ltd (WWIL) had expanded its footprint in Delhi by acquiring a 51 per cent stake in Satellite Channels and signing up with Spectranet and Sanjay Cable Network for supplying digital services.

In Kolkata, Sristi Broadband takes the feed from Manthan Cable Network. A group of operators of Sristi Cable TV are using the feed from Mathan and Zee's Indian Cable Net as it could not make arrangements for STBs.

"Sristi Broadband and a group of operators from Sristi Cable are taking feed from us," says Manthan director Gurmeet Singh. Manthan has recently introduced a package for the second TV set where subscribers will have to pay Rs 90 a month for 50 pay channels. Manthan's STB costs Rs 2599.

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