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Almost There

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

By the time you read this article, as per government directive, 4 metros-Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai-should have gone digital in transmitting TV signals to its citizens. The government has mandated that by October 31, television broadcast should be on digital medium in these metro cities.

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The objective is very clear-switch to digital TV could will bring around `5,500 crore revenue per year in terms of service tax as the neighbourhood cable operators have been disclosing only 20% or so of the actual subscribers from whom they collect money every month.



With the digitization of cable TV, the actual number of subscribers gets recorded through the set-top-boxes (STBs) which contain a digital card with the users' address and account details, much like a bank debit card. There is a record of each set-top-box through which the signals are sent to individual homes.



The government has passed the law for digitization of cable services last year in December 2011. Here the cable services will switch to digital mode. As on October 31, around 91% digitization have already been achieved in the said 4 metros. This goes up to 94%, if the progress made by DTH is also taken into account.

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The process of digitization will definitely benefit the television viewers of the country. Digitization will lead TV viewers to more qualitative viewing with access to digital picture and high-definition digital sound quality. This measure will empower subscribers to an increased number of channels.



The digitization process will continue in cities with more than one million population like Pune, Ahmedabad, and Bengaluru by March 31, 2013. The deadline for complete digitization in urban areas is September 30, 2014 while the entire country is expected to achieve digitization by December 31, 2014.



Mumbai Topping the Digital Switch

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As of date, the switchover from analog to digital has achieved maximum in Mumbai with 100%, followed by Delhi with 97%, Chennai with 86%, and Kolkata with 85%. As per the data provided by Multi System Operators (MSOs), currently about 50,000 set-top-boxes (STBs) are being installed per day in the designated 4 metro cities.



For the past couple of months, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has been using various medium to create awareness about the shift from analog to digital and the huge success of this digitization drive is the result of such aggressive public awareness campaigns. Even DTH operators have been approached for cable TV digitization.



The government has given a vision statement for the information and broadcasting sector at the inauguration of FICCI Frames 2012 in Mumbai. Uday Kumar Varma, I&B secretary had said that the government has addressed the issue comprehensively and the parliament has passed the law for mandatory digitization of cable services in December 2011. He also said the cable services will switch to digital mode in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai as early as July 2012, which was deferred later to October 31, and the whole country will go digital by December 31, 2014.

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Varma termed the digitization challenge undertaken by India as unique in several respects. He said with over 80 mn analog TV homes going digital, it will make cable the largest provider of digital content. He asserted that all the stake holders-broadcasters, MSOs, and cable operators have supported the government's move.



What Does Statistics Say?



Besides, in its National Broadband Plan, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) clearly sees a pivotal role for cable operators in developing broadband infrastructure, with digital network upgrades paving the way for broadband growth.

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According to census 2011, there are 103.76 lakh households in 4 metro cities. Thus 83 lakh households have TV sets in 4 metro cities. Out of 83 lakh TV households, 27 lakh households have direct-to-home service (DTH) connection. Total 68.40 lakh cable subscribers need to get STBs in these metros. Out of these, around 50 lakh households have already installed cable STBs. Thus 72% of the TV households in the above mentioned 4 metro cities have already become digital.

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