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Breaking News : Chennai not ready for digitisation
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The Jayalalithaa-led state government will write to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry seeking extension so that Arasu gets time to install the set-top boxes (STBs) in consumer homes. A comfortable time zone of at least three months is being considered but it is not clear yet how the Union government will react.

"Who said Chennai is ready? We are going to seek for an extension of three months. We won't be able to complete the roll out of digital services by 31 October," Arasu Cable TV managing director D. Vivekananda told Indiantelevision.com.

Arasu Cable had earlier floated a tender for providing digital head-ends, STBs, encryption solutions and subscriber management system (SMS) but cancelled it because it found the costs too high. A few consortiums had participated in the tender including the ones led by Wipro with Cisco as a partner. The Motorola consortium had offered a cost of around Rs 1.15 billion while Wipro's was about half of that for the whole digital infrastructure and management.

"We scrapped the tender as it was cost prohibitive for us. One of the participants quoted Rs 500 million for the digital head-ends. So we have gone in for a new tender and will likely be deciding whom to go with on Saturday," said Vivekananda.

Arasu has trimmed down the new tender and decided not to have new digital head-ends. "We have four digital head-ends. We decided not to go for new head-ends as it would have proved too costly. We will upgrade our Ericsson head-end and make it compatible for offering 200 television channels. In any case, the regulator (Trai) has given three months time for upgradation of capacity to offer 500 channels," he said.

Arasu is looking at one million STBs and will be paying its vendors across 12 months with a small upfront payment. "This is a reversal from the earlier payment terms," a participant said on condition of anonymity.

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