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Have you got your box yet?

As the set top box becomes mandatory for satellite TV, here’s all you need to know.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2012 00:50 IST
Aditi Pant
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If you stay in Delhi and still don’t have a set top box attached to your TV set, you’d better hurry. As per the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill 2011, set top boxes will become mandatory for anyone accessing cable television from July 1 onwards in the four metros — Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Analog signal vs digital signal

Set top boxes will essentially replace analog signals with digital signals. Analog signals are currently used by cable operators and will be replaced by digital signals, already used by DTH (direct-to-home) operators. Digital signals are considered better than analog because they are of better quality and take up less bandwidth. They provide clearer and sharper picture and better sound quality. Also, consumers get to select the channels they want to watch and only pay for those.


The big switch

While cable operators have geared up for the big switch, DTH providers, too, have tightened their distribution channels. Says Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer, Tata Sky: “Digitisation is the way ahead. We are focusing on having enough set top boxes now. We’ve also beefed up our call centres. Our billing system has been upgraded and we continually add innovative services.” Shashi Arora, CEO of DTH, Bharti Airtel, also welcomes the change. “Digitisation is a welcome step for all of us. We are looking at offering better content and stronger distribution services.” Some DTH providers are also aligning with cable operators. “We have involved around 300 cable operators with us wherein they’ll provide our connection in return for a commission,”, says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV.

The South Delhi model

Digitisation knocked Delhi’s door in 2007 when Conditional Access System (CAS) was introduced in South Delhi. Says Shweta Malhotra, a South Delhi resident, “The quality of picture with the set top box is much better. Also, we can listen to all radio channels on it.” Delhiites residing in other parts of the Capital are also hoping the switch is for the better. “I have been told by my cable operator that the picture and sound quality will be much better,” says Purnima Choubey, a resident of Mayur Vihar.

Too short a time frame?

Some cable operators, however, feel the time period given for the switch is too short. KK Sharma, technology consultant, who has served with Cable Operators Federation of India in the past, says, “Digitisation is a must. But the question is whether the switch will succeed? That is a little doubtful. It should be more practical than this. There must be some preparation for it. Cable industry is run by many small entrepreneurs. This switch in such a short span is not practical.”
If you have any query related to the issue, the government has announced a toll free number: 18001804343.