The Conditional Access System (CAS) regime is just a week away, and if you live in south Delhi, you are probably rushing to ensure you are not blacked out for want of a set top box (STB) on January 1. Just make sure that in your haste, you are not passed on an STB that is old and does not support all the applications that CAS promises.
Thousands of STBs have been lying stacked in warehouses across Delhi for nearly three years now. Multi-system operators (MSOs) like Home Cable and In Cable bought them in bulk anticipating a massive increase in demand after CAS was notified in 2003.
However, CAS never really set in then, and most of the STBs remained unsold. And out of the 50,000-odd boxes recently installed in Delhi, several thousand are suspected to be of the old stock.
Industry sources say the new STBs have a minimum 8MB RAM; the ones with video-on-demand have double that. But the older boxes have RAMs of up to just 2 MB — enough to view pay channels, but not enough to support video-on-demand or recording programmes.
Cautions Vicky Chaudhary of Home Cable: "Consumers should consider whether the STB will meet all their TV needs. The boxes will be the key for all multi-media requirements." Anil Malhotra of In Cable admitted MSOs were installing old STBs at places, but argued the older boxes were "not that bad".