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Last mile upgradation will protect turf of cable operators
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NEW DELHI: Local cable operators need not fear the entry of DTH, IPTV or Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) if there is ‘necessary last mile upgradation,’ industry experts said.

The speakers at the one-day SATCAB Symposium, organised by the All India Dish Antennae Aavishkaar Sangh, felt that HITS was, in fact, the cheapest way of digitisation and should, thus, be welcomed. But it was necessary for the local cable operators and MSOs to improve coordination among them.

The speakers also wanted the government to intervene to help the cable operators and ensure that they were given a fair deal. It was pointed out that though the Chandigarh High Court had stayed the attempt by the Haryana Government's proposal on licensing only one cable operator per city, it was necessary for the Centre to intervene in the case since the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 was a central legislation.

Sangh founder and president A K Rastogi regretted that no government had so far succeeded in bringing forward the Broadcast Services Regulation Bill in Parliament, though it was drafted several years earlier. He said that the FDI of 74 per cent in HITS may not be good for the country as it could go into foreign control.

Rastogi suggested that cable operators should have a united committee to interact with the government on all policy issues.

Colonel V C Khare, who has been involved with the cable industry for several years, said that most cable operators unfortunately did not bother to understand their industry and improve the last mile systems by making it two-way. This was the reason for their fear of new technologies.

Khare regretted that though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had drafted a restructuring of the cable sector and put a questionnaire on its website for eliciting the opinions of cable operators, not even 60 of the 60,000 cable operators in the country had bothered to respond. The operators, therefore, will have no reason to complain if the government passes any law in the absence of their responses.

Khare said that the empowered authorities at present did not have any penal powers under the Cable TV Network Rules 1994, and Trai’s recommendations in this regard were under consideration of the government.

Subhash Grover of Siti Satellite said HITS should be accepted by cable operators as it would protect them from IPTV and DTH since it wouldl lead to digitisation.

Amit Kharbhanda of MyBox said digitisation was inevitable and it would be good if the cable operators accepted this as early as possible. He also felt that local set top boxes had a greater chance of success in the market than imported ones.

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