Cable operators gearing up to switch to the new mode from March 25

With March 31 deadline set by the Telecom Regulatory Advisory Authority (TRAI) fast approaching, cable operators in the city have geared up to go digital.

With the two multi system operators (MSO) in the city almost completing installation of modular MPEG4 and digital headend equipment, the city is set to join the digital landscape of India.

“We are making efforts to switch over from analog to digital broadcast from March 25,” Pilla Srinivasa Rao of Venkata Sai Media told The Hindu on Saturday.

According to an estimate, the city has over 3 lakh cable connections. The connections are given by nearly 500 small and big cable operators, who work under the two MSOs. Forty to 50 per cent of people have paid advance for switching over to digital viewing.

The cable operators are collecting an advance of Rs. 500 for set-top box and Rs.1,000 for providing HD box and recorder. The actual cost of the set-top box is Rs.1,500. HD box and recorder is available for Rs.3,000. The equipment is provided on first come, first served basis.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao said though they had been transmitting on digital mode to select customers for the past four-and-half years, as per TRAI deadline, they had installed the required equipment for complete digital mode to enable consumers view 300 channels. Once licence is upgraded, the number of channels is likely to be doubled in the next phase.

He said compared to DTH operators, theirs would be “cheap and customer-friendly” as they would not levy service charge for attending to complaints. To a question, he said for HD and recorder option, only a few had paid advance. A section of people are hoping that TRAI will extend the deadline.

As there is severe shortage of set-top boxes, orders are being placed for supply of the equipment from China. The response so far is quite encouraging as there is lot of interest for enhanced picture and sound quality.

“Affordable price, free door-to-door service, and the fun of having value added services with high quality such as watching a movie on demand or accessing broadband and games has generated a lot of interest among the people,” M.V. Somasekhar, one of the cable operators in MVP Colony, said.

The digital conversion will put an end to unauthorised cable operators and dispute over number of subscribers. This will also prevent a person from viewing multiple TVs by paying for just one connection.

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