Photo: (middle) Shri Manish Tewari, Minister of State Information & Broadcasting, Government of India: “The broadcast sector in India is poised to grow, throwing up limitless opportunities for the industry players”
by Kerstin Roost
“Digitization” in India was THE topic of 2012. How is India “digitizing” television? Programs to start the analog switch-off seem to have begun, but are they actually happening? And how competitive is the landscape today between cable and satellite? These are the questions I asked myself before visiting Convergence India 2013.
The 21st Convergence India expo was held in New Delhi, mid-January, under the theme “Enriching A Billion Lives”. With over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populated country in the world and by 2025, it would even surpass China as the most populous country in the world.
India’s Digitization process: Phase I and II and the New Competition
“Digitization” was THE topic of 2012. What has changed since? But step by step: What is this “Digitization process”?
As you know, TV signals can be received via an aerial or terrestrial reception, via satellite in the case of Direct-to-Home (DTH), via broadband connection in the case of IPTV or via cable from the local cable operator. India’s Government has, as a policy initiative, taken a decision to switch over to digital mode for reception of TV signals both in terrestrial mode as well as through cable from local cable operators.
The year 2012 started with Phase I of the Digitization with the plan to “switch-over” the four main cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. Phase II targets the next 38 cities by March 2013. The rest of India will have to follow by December 2014. Despite the success stories in the Indian press, you will also find opinions pointing out that many operators, broadcasters and even the Government have not prepared well for the switch-over.
The direct advantages of digitization are obvious:
- As digital video technology allows compression of the video signal and a much more efficient use of the available bandwidth, you can carry more channels over the same or less bandwidth.
- Therefore service providers can offer more channels, and a much wider variety of content. Consumers can select the channels of their choice and view them in the best quality.
- Value added and interactive services are also possible.
As an effect of the digital switch-over, end users will need to choose between DTH or terrestrial systems. The number of DTH households in India is expected to grow from 37 million in 2011 to 86 million by 2016 and 100 million by 2018 (Frost & Sullivan). With this, India is set to become one of the largest DTH markets in the world.
Increased Competition between Cable and DTH: Battle for Viewers
This growing market will mean an increased competition between cable and DTH. Video quality, number of channels and service availability will become more and more important differentiators in the battle for viewers. In the case of satellite, this will require proven uplink solutions and highly efficient use of satellite capacity. And this is exactly the scenario where we at Newtec could support our customers with our technology.
Talking of Billions in the DTH Market
For more than 15 years, Newtec has been a key player, enabling transition to digital distribution of TV channels via satellite. Worldwide, today, more than two billion viewers can enjoy watching television thanks to our technology.
Feedback from our Broadcast Customers
I was delighted to get the chance to talk to several of our long-term Indian customers from the broadcast industry.
One of them was a very happy leading DTH provider, who recently evaluated our Satellite Broadcast Modulator with build-in Carrier Pre-Distortion and Clean Channel Technology™. He told me that the test has resulted in a 10% performance increase. Thanks to the pre-distortion they can now transmit the signal closer to the saturation of the transponder and closer to the edge of the transponder frequency range. As a result, more power and more throughput are available, and therefore more channels and services for their customers.
In conversations with other broadcasters I have found common consent, that they are not looking for the cheapest box in the market, but more and more they want reliability and clever ways to speed up their return on investment.
New Products showed at Convergence India: ready for DVB Extensions
We have unveiled our new modem portfolio to the Indian market. To meet and exceed customer demand for higher speeds and increasing bandwidth efficiency, we have launched three new modems for all kind of applications and speeds. Important to mention here is that the MDM6000, the new high speed satellite modem which is doing 2 x 380 Mbps, already includes the upcoming DVB S2-extensions candidates. These S2-extensions give an increase of 15% to 37% on top of DVB-S2. During the show it was sometimes very crowded in front of this new modem pyramid:
Photos: Convergence India booth; middle: (fltr) Umesh Van Hulse, Kerstin Roost, Sathish Amara, Pradeep Asthana.
Reaching Billions: Strong Partners are Needed!
In the weeks before Convergence India new broadcast, government and Telco companies in India signed agreements to become certified partners joining this rapidly expanding global program. It is designed to ensure customers have local access and support to our comprehensive and unique range of products anywhere in the world. Our county manager for India, Sathish Amara, has pointed out in an interview with Telecom Lead Asia at our booth, that it is our plan to focus on all regions and that we will select partners based on their strengths (full article in Telecom Lead Asia). In that article you can also read that in association with our Bangalore-based partner New Technology Applications (NTA), and in line with our expansion plans, we have set up a customer care center in India. The center will address needs of Indian customers.
Public Relations Director