Cable TV

GTPL Hathway increases CAPEX in upgrading network, 70% transmitted into GPON technology

The company is looking at Rs 250-260 crore CAPEX for FY 21.

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MUMBAI: Traditional distributors like cable operators are feeling the heat of the competition from a number of easily accessible streaming services. But large multi-system operators are not sitting idle to watch the ruin of their long-built businesses. Hence, constantly upgrading has become the key to adapt in changing business environment. GTPL Hathway is one of them which is putting more CAPEX in upgrading the network and moving towards a hybrid model of business.

The company is looking at Rs 250-260 crore CAPEX for FY 21 and around Rs 150 crore to Rs 160 crore will go into the cable business; the rest will go into the broadband business. But it will have to reevaluate it somewhere in quarter two to see what is the Covid2019 effect and how much longer the effect is going to be. 

GTPL Hathway chairman and non-executive director Rajan Gupta explains in an investors call that a significant amount of CAPEX has been invested in upgrading the network. While the MSO was earlier relying on Metro Ethernet Network (MEN) technology,  most of that has been upgraded now to fiber-to-building (FTTB) and fiber-to-home (FTTH). 

He adds that they have seen see a huge increase in network training also in the last few quarters or a few months. 

“We have to divide it into two parts. One is something called an access network and second is the last mile consumer equipment. So access network is capable of handling anything. On the last mile, you put two consumer premises equipment, or you put a hybrid equipment. And as far as legal is concerned, cable and broadband have separate licenses, one is MIB and second is the DoT. So, in any case, combined bill, etc., is not possible because both have different licensing requirement. So we have to differentiate between the access network technology and the last mile which is the consumer home,” Gupta speaks about the required investment for upgradation.

GTPL Hathway CATV business head and chief strategy officer Piyush Pankaj says that now almost 70 per cent network is transmitted into GPON technology i.e, FTTH or FTTX. He also adds that they are working on the hybrid box and the order has been given. While the launch of the hybrid boxes, the combined business of cable, broadband and OTT together was scheduled somewhere in July, it may be extended it by one quarter due to Covid2019 crisis. He notes that they want to take benefit of these opportunities of all latest technologies to serve their customers better. 

Jio, the shareholder of GTPL Hathway, is also focusing on broadband business highly. But GTPL Hathway promoter and managing director Anirudhsinh Jadeja mentions that Jio is not launching any cable TV business, so it isn't posing any additional competition. “They are majorly into the broadband business. So, yes, it's a privilege that Jio is our partner and we have almost very good understanding and we have a lot of synergy in terms of the infrastructure sharing and content sharing. So, we are not seeing right now any competition from Jio. We are complementing each other,” he adds.

“See, all the synergies (with Jio) and benefits we are getting as GTPL Hathway will continue as usual, such as, from all the vendor negotiations, lease line side, etc. Yes, GTPL Hathway is doing its own broadband business as we are mainly doing it in Gujarat. Jio is with us, it's our privilege and we are going to complement each other's business on the ground,” Pankaj adds.

The MSO launched Giga HD last year where it started providing cable and broadband together but had to roll it back just because of the NTO which was getting implemented. Now, it is coming with the hybrid box where it will provide cable, broadband and OTT together to the customer. The endeavour is to get double, triple or quadruple customers to take up the stickiness much higher. The company also seems less bothered about competition as it says all the areas where GTPL is operating there is no other private player but BSNL being the primary competition. 

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