Why are cable operators moving towards broadband?

The second phase of cable TV digitization is complete and it is estimated that around 65 percent of the households have been digitized in 38 cities across 14 states. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is now concentrating on third phase of digitization where the focus is on urban areas (municipal corporations or municipalities) except cities or towns or areas included in the Phase I and II by September 30, 2014.

The Phase IV of cable TV digitisation process will cover rest of the country by end of 2014 and by that time the number of digital subscribers will increase considerably.

Cable operators are not only working on cable TV digitization in full swing but they are also looking at additional revenue from customers by offering broadband services. For cable operators, it is an additional incremental investment as the focus is on converting cable TV subscriber base to broadband services.

Hathway has taken lead in broadband but now many cable operators like DEN Networks, Fastway Transmissions, Gujarat Telelink and others are planning to join the broadband bandwagon. Initially, the focus is on limited rollout of broadband services but once the model is successful, the cable operators are looking at additional cities as well as increased coverage.

Hathway has added 33,000 broadband subscribers in the second quarter and its total broadband base stands at 436,000. In South Mumbai, Hathway has also started offering speeds of 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps based on DOCSIS 3 technology. The company is planning to launch high speed broadband services in few other cities in the next 6 months. Presently, Hathway offers high-speed cable broadband services across 20 cities.

Having tested success on cable TV digitization, DEN Networks is planning to provide high speed broadband service offering triple play offerings to consumers. DEN has been gearing up for its broadband foray over the last few months and has already carried out proof of concept tests on DOCSIS 3 platform and achieved speeds of 100 Mbps in controlled conditions which is far higher than what most broadband platforms are able to offer today.

The company has already invested heavily over the last few years to build a large fiber optic backbone through a combination of owned and leased fiber. Moreover, the existing cable going into the consumer home for digital cable TV is versatile enough to  provide high speed broadband giving the company massive operating leverage for quick deployment of broadband services.

In2Cable or IndusInd Media & Communications (a subsidiary of Hinduja Ventures) is one of the largest multi-system operators in the country with an estimated 8.5 million subscribers across 36 key cities. IMCL has a backbone of over 10,000 Kms of hybrid fibre optic networks through which it also offers broadband services. The company offers high-speed cable broadband services across 11 cities offering high speed Internet services to residential, corporate and SME customers. In2Cable is also planning to increase its broadband reach.

DEN has a strong nationwide presence and has 13 million homes of which 5 million are digital cable subscribers. The company is looking at converting these to broadband services whenever they launch their services.

Fastway Transmissions claims to be the fastest growing Master Satellite Operators (MSO) in North India with a strong base in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chandigarh. The company is evaluating technologies to provide broadband services to its subscribers.

Gujarat Telelink has a strong presence in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal. It’s  cable network  reaches millions of homes and connects thousands of cities/towns in these states. GTPL also offers high speed Internet with its broadband networks and plans to increase its presence in additional cities.

In future, the cable broadband base is bound to increase in the country if the cable operators can keep broadband tariffs attractive and provide better quality of service vis-a-vis cable TV services.



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