Punjab cable operators on Saturday called the Centre's decision of digitalising networks by March 31, 2013, a move to provide monopoly to direct-to-home (DTH) service providers.
The cable operators, however, said they were ready to digitalise operations in the state well before the deadline.
"Enactment of law for compulsory digitalisation of cable network has left the cable operator with no option other than to initiate the process for it to meet the deadline," said Sunny Gill, president of Punjab Cable Operators' Welfare Association.
"We have already completed 90% of the digitalisation work in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar; the remaining cities would be covered well before the deadline given by the information and broadcasting ministry," said Gill.
He said a new working committee of the association had been set up to resolve issues pertaining to small cable operators as well as to accelerate digitalisation.
"Three cable network firms - Fastway, Win Cable and Siti Cable - have invested crores of rupees to install digi-boxes for which new fibre cable is being laid," Gill said "For each box, which costs Rs 2,000 for the company, Rs 600 is being taken from the customer as security deposit apart from a monthly rent of Rs 30."
About 40 to 50 lakh digi-boxes would be installed in the state by March 31, he added.
"To make people aware of the new technology in the cable industry, the association will start its own newspaper and magazine, which would be distributed among cable operators free of cost and for sale in the market."
Meanwhile, during a meeting of cable operators, some of them criticised the digi-box manufacturers for forcing them to sell the gadgets.
"We are forcibly provided with a large number of boxes along with the bill and even the rent of Rs 30 per month is charged from us from the day the boxes are installed," a cable operator said on condition of anonymity. "It is virtually monopolisation of cable networks in Punjab as these companies are exploiting small operators on the pretext of digitalisation. Once the boxes are installed, cable operators will have no role, other than to act as small distributors of these companies."