The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) of India revealed that the third phase rollout of Digital Addressable System (DAS) as “very positive” with over 75 per cent seeding of digital set-top-boxes (STBs). The task force of MIB noted that most of the notified urban areas had been seeded with STBs except only around 400 areas which were below 1,000 and others less than 5,000 populations.
Under DAS, all homes currently connected to the analogue cable network have to mandatorily use a digital STB. However, the direct to home (DTH) operators have informed the government that there were 16 million active DTH boxes in the Phase III areas and they expected another 2 million boxes getting activated shortly. Additionally, there were 4 million STBs of DD Free Dish and 8 million digital cable boxes that have been seeded.
On the other hand, cable operators in Maharashtra said they were facing challenges in seeding around 2 million STBs in 60 per cent of the areas earmarked under Phase III as the national-level Multi System Operators (MSOs) were absent in these areas. Similar issues have been raised by the leading MSOs of Odisha where the delivery of STBs has affected the roll out.
Consequently, the deadline for the implementation of the digital addressable system (DAS) has been extended by the Hyderabad High Court for two months in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, due to a lack of available STBs.
To recall, the digitization of India’s cable TV sector has been split into four phases. The first, which covered the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, was completed on 31 October 2012. The second, covering the 38 cities with a population of more than a million, was completed on 31 March 2013. Phase III was originally scheduled for completion at the end of September 2014, but was moved at that time to 31 December 2015. The final switchover phase, which covers the rest of India, will take place by 31 December 2016.