The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fourth service provider in fray

With the rat race among multi-system operators (MSOs) for post-CAS connectivity reaching fever pitch during the final lap, a fourth service provider is set to churn up the market further. CableComm, the newest MSO entering the fray on Wednesday, is gearing up to feed cable homes in and around Calcutta an all-digital diet.

A joint-venture of software firm Descon, the Multicon Group with interests in education, exports, real estate, finance and IT, and a group of cable operators, CableComm promises to deliver “signals of quality and content” through state-of-the-art digital convergence technology.

“The competitors have decided to go digital. So, we wanted to stay a step ahead by launching on a digital-only platform,” says director Dileep S. Mehta of the Multicon Group. In Calcutta, the only other MSO rolling out CAS on a digital platform is SitiCable, which is taking the HITS (head-end in the sky) route.

Mehta, a past president of the City Developers’ Forum, feels the time is now “ripe” to enter the fray, with the cable television industry “finally getting organised” through CAS. “We are developing the cable operator as a brand who will offer a bouquet of services through a sophisticated delivery mechanism,” he explains.

CableComm promises to provide “a minimum of” 55-60 free-to-air channels, in addition to at least 30 pay channels, besides broadband cable Internet services from Day One without dial-up. Other value-added services proposed are distance learning, video-on-demand, pay-per-view, video conferencing, e-commerce, e-governance, etc.

The MSO is using “select international vendors” for its equipment. While the headend is provided by Finnish firm Teleste Corporation, the CAS comes from Conax AS of Norway. The digital set-top boxes, from Korean company Kaon Media, priced at around Rs 3,800 each, including taxes, would provide a host of interesting features, according to the directors.

Besides being FM-enabled, the boxes will allow the viewer to enjoy zoom-in, action replays and three extra cameras through a special feed from broadcasters.

An electronic programme guide will provide information on the content of every channel. An emergency medical helpline through the STB is also being planned.

The only hitch till now is the unavailability of the STAR signal, which the directors hope to “sort out” soon. “We are, in fact, looking at a 30 per cent market share by the end of the first month,” asserts Mehta.

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