Convergence India 2009: Digital cable and DTH will coexist

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | March 19, 2009
In this discussion, speakers spoke about their insights on Asian markets

In the panel discussion on 'DTH, MSOs and Cable - The Battle for Supremacy' at the 17th Convergence India 2009, the focus was on the technologies that drive these stakeholders.

The discussion was chaired by N Arjun, executive director, Bharti Telemedia and the panellists were Tryggve Arveschoug, chief executive officer, Conax Access Systems; Subhendu Mohanty, country head, home and networks mobility business, Motorola; Doug Mahy, assistant architect, Tanberg Television; and Himanshu Dave, regional manager, South Asia, marketing and business development, Cisco.

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Arjun set the stage with some figures: There are 125 million TV households in India, 82 million of which are cable and satellite and 11 million are private DTH.

Arveschoug of Conax spoke about the importance of securing the content in the broadcast chain so that it is not pirated. He added that it is possible to secure digital as well as analog cable.

"The problem is that studios and content creators encrypt the content only when it is already in the broadcast chain," he said.

Mohanty of Motorola spoke about emerging trends in technology, saying that there is a move from standard definition to high definition, from a passive audience to a social participative audience and from simple services to interactivity, DVR and VOD.

"Media mobility is the key to be different," he said, referring to the ability to offer the same content to the consumer on multiple devices.

Arjun, who also doubled as a panellist, spoke about the consumer insights brought out by a research conducted by Bharti Telemedia. He said that in a single TV home, the consumer chooses between digital cable and DTH. However, when the same consumer buys a second television set, he almost always chooses DTH.

Speaking about the perceptions about cable and DTH, he said that DTH is seen as the superior technology and cable is ridden with poor technology. However, he added that both will coexist, saying, "DTH will hold advantage in the quality conscious market and cable will have an advantage in the price sensitive market."

Mahy of Tanberg TV, a video on-demand service provider, spoke about their experience in the UK. The digitisation process in the UK started 10 years ago and pay TV came there 20 years ago.

The pertinent question he asked is, "If DTH is a better technology, why are cable operators still there in the UK after 20 years?"

The answer to this, he said, is that they offer quad play services or mobile, fixed line, Internet and TV.

He added that India has only NVOD (near video on demand) now, where the content is shown at an interval of 15 minutes with limited choices. He added that research shows that there can be an increase of 10 per cent in income by shifting to VOD, which provides more than 1,000 hours of programming at lesser intervals.

Dave of Cisco spoke about the technology solutions available in the market and said, "Digital cable has the potential of adding new services and creating a premium positioning for itself."