MIB: Now on to DAS phase III & IV

MUMBAI: Within days of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) giving out its fact sheet on how digital addressable system (DAS) phase I and II have progressed, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) directed all the stakeholders also known as  'the task force of digitisation' to assess its progress and chart out a road map for the coming year.

The meeting saw minister Manish Tewari, secretary Bimal Julka, additional secretary Supriya Sahu, leading MSOs such as Den CEO S N Sharma, The One Alliance president Rajesh Kaul, LCOs, News Broadcasting Association (NBA) secretary Annie Joseph, Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) secretary Shailesh Shah and Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal. After speaking to everyone about the issues faced in DAS phases I and II and Sahu’s presentation on the value that digitisation was creating in the country, Tewari gave the go ahead to implement the next two phases.

However this time it won’t be with two deadlines but rather a one stretch implementation across the remaining parts of the country with just one deadline of 31 December 2014. Although the ministry was of the opinion that two deadlines should exist, the TRAI had voiced its opinion in 2011 that phase III and IV could be achieved simultaneously.

All the stakeholders brought out the issues they had faced in the first two phases to which the minister warned them to sort out their own problems internally or this would lead to a postponement of complete national digitisation - which would not bode well for the industry.  He also told everyone to keep working in coordination even now - and iron out any wrinkles or resolve all problems so that digitisation can progress further.

Tewari said that the upcoming elections may slow down the process but digitisation is here for good and there's no stopping it now.  The IBF and NBA have been asked to once again air promos highlighting the importance of digitisation.

Now that the green signal has been given, all stakeholders can now attack the rest of the country without having any boundaries. But this is the toughest part as the issues they will face in the interiors will be much higher  and more difficult to resolve than metros and towns. Phase I and II saw nearly 25 million set top boxes being seeded while phase III and IV will see about 75 million more boxes being put in place.

The minister has also assured support saying that the issues in the previous phases will be addressed as they move towards the next ones. 

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