Monday, 30th October 2017

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DTH boost to cable choices

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By RITH BASU
  • Published 11.11.08
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WHAT’S NEW

  • Record, pause and rewind live TV

  • Combined remote for TV and set-top box

  • Preview of channels to facilitate navigation

  • MPEG 4 technology

Launch of three direct-to-home (DTH) television services in the city in the past three months promises to offer consumers advanced features, better after-sales service and more competitive prices.

Airtel digital TV, Reliance Big TV and Tata Sky+ are the new DTH players in the city market. The DTH services of Doordarshan and Dish TV as well as Tata Sky’s basic service were already available.

Sun TV, available elsewhere in the country, is expected to launch services in the city by the end of the year. Videocon is expected to roll out its service nationally by March 2009.

“Tata Sky+ lets you pause and rewind live TV. It also lets you record programmes being shown on a channel while watching another channel. This will allow one to record a serial while watching a cricket match,” said an industry insider. Tata Sky+ is available at six times the price of the basic Tata Sky connection.

Airtel is about to launch a high-end set-top box (STB). “We are testing a product that will allow recording, and hence pausing and rewinding of live television. We are assessing the market and would launch it next year,” N. Arjun, the executive director of Airtel DTH services, told Metro.

The three new entrants provide MPEG-4 technology, making for sharper picture and sound quality. In addition, Airtel digital TV comes with a universal remote for the TV and set-top box (STB) and Big TV offers a screen where one can watch a preview of sets of 12 channels to make navigation easier.

The new products also come with bigger dish antennas to counter loss of signal during rain — a common complaint in DTH homes. According to an industry estimate, of the 8.5 crore cable and satellite homes in the country, 25 to 30 lakh subscribe to DTH. The DTH operators plan to increase their customer count to 2.5 crore by 2020.

Cable operators, however, are not worried about competition from DTH. “Of the 25 lakh cable and satellite television viewers in the city, only 1.2 lakh have subscribed to DTH services. Many of those who opted for DTH, switched back to cable because of better after-sales service and availability of local channels. There is no reason for us to fret over the new entrants,” said Mrinal Chatterjee, a cable operator who has been a part of the industry for 16 years.

As a step towards improving after-sales service, the DTH players are trying to make their call centres more customer-friendly. Airtel, for instance, is offering 24x7 customer support in eight languages, including Bengali.