Indian MSO Ortel digitizes 50% in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Cuttac

Ortel Communications, a regional MSO in India distributes analog, digital cable TV and broadband services to Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal states of the country. Ortel is a last mile operator which claims to have stayed much ahead of government´s mandate by undertaking voluntary digitization. Greater than 50% of Ortel´s subscribers in their key functional areas like Kolkata, Bhubaneswar & Cuttac are digitized. Currently 20% of their entire cable TV subscriber base is digitized with expansions undergoing in their target constituencies.

Ortel being a last mile operator states their advantage of by-passing multiple risks´ which a regular MSO undergoes and also shuns protracted negotiations with LCOs on subscriber base, revenue share and ground collections. This MSO has launched active campaign in phase3 and 4 cities to stay much ahead of the closure dates for mandatory digitization.

Ortel´s business strategy of enhancing per customer revenue in low ARPU yielding towns by providing Internet on the same pipe is notable. Ortel´s Chief Operating Officer, Sanjay Katyal to Nextvindia, ”The trick out here is customer segmentation, creating multiple price points with differentiated content and continuing to expand the footprint of data services to enhance ARPUs”.

Challenges foreseen for delivering digital services in remote areas are box subsidies, payback periods and geographical difficulties. While in phase 1 & 2 cities, the carriage income of MSOs offsets their content cost to a large extent; this protection is not available in the phase 3 & 4 towns. Thus operators need to device diverse strategies to stay much ahead of others and to be successful in remote towns.

Ortel´s services are offered as Ortel Home Cable-analog, Ortel Digital and Ortel Broadband in the regions they operate with key suppliers being Irdeto and Sumavision. The MSO provides analog cable services in 37 locations through their 36 analog headends.The digital services are being offered in 7 locations and data services in 15 locations. Their digital portfolio includes 200 channels with 3 HD offering, and will offer increased HD channels after finalizing their discussions with broadcasters.Their VAS offering train and flight timings & temple darshans are a complementary services reaching out to their entire digital subscriber base in Orissa. Ortel had plans to go public but is currently considering to raise fund through private equity firms for supporting their digitisation plans.