KOLKATA: Assam based multi-system operator (MSO), Axom Communications and Cable, which already boasts of around six lakh cable TV connections in the state including the lower and central parts, is aiming to spruce up its digitisation drive.
By the end of the phase IV of digitisation, it aims to install one million set top boxes (STBs) not only in Assam but also in other states of the north-eastern region.
Axom Communications and Cable director Sanjive Narain says that the MSO has already installed the digital headend in the year 2009 and has laid down the fiber connectivity linking around 250 kms from three sides of Guwahati, the commercial hub of Assam. The setup of the digital headend was supported by Cisco, from whom Axom would be purchasing STBs as well.
“We aim to have a million boxes seeded by the end of 2015. We have around 10 analogue headends and one digital headend,” he says. According to sources, the MSO had spent Rs 3 crore for installing the digital headend.
Out of 6 lakh connections, more than 70,000 cable homes have been converted into digital mainly in Guwahati, even before the digitisation process has started in the state.
The seven sisters come under phase III and IV of digitisation. “Right now the process has not started in the true sense but the industry is getting ready,” adds Narain. He expects the current deadline of December 2014 to be extended as well. This could be because the government is addressing the loopholes witnessed in phases I and II.
“Fibre network connectivity work is still progressing in states like Tripura, Nagaland, Meghalaya to name a few,” he adds.
The north east terrain is such that cable TV cannot reach everywhere. Therefore DTH made a sizeable penetration in this market. “We will convert the DTH subscribers into cable by giving a lucrative option to consumers,” he says adding that the MSO may charge Rs 250 plus tax for offering 350 channels.
As far as the funding for the undertaking is concerned, Cisco’s capital arm is one of the options amongst others such as private equity or JVs with other parties.