Superior picture, excellent sound quality and better service - Digitisation is indeed the way of the future. But what does the new bill, aimed at the digitisation of the cable industry, mean for the common man? Read on to find out.
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What does Digitisation of TV services mean?
TV signals are currently distributed in the country in analog as well as in digital and terrestrial formats. A digital format provides better picture quality & sound and other benefits leading to a better quality service. Most cable operators in the country are providing analog TV service while all DTH operators are providing a digital TV service. Digitisation means that all cable TV households would receive digital TV signals through a Set Top Box. As part of Digitisation, every cable operator will be legally bound to transmit digital signals, which can be received at the subscriber's home only through a Set Top Box, often called a STB.
What is the Digitisation Bill passed by the Government of India?
A bill aimed at digitising the cable has been passed by the Central government. This bill mandates that all cable TV operators will have to transmit TV signals in an encrypted format through a digital addressable system. This will be done through the installation of Set Top Box in every cable TV home and is being carried out in four phases.
Is there a deadline by when the Digitisation process has to be completed?
The first phase of digitisation covered the four metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In the second phase 38 cities were covered with population more than one million. About 630 districts and 7709 urban areas will be covered in DAS Phase III aimed at all urban areas while the fourth phase by 31 December, 2016 will cover the rest of the country.
The following 38 cities/towns were digitized by March 31 2013 as part of Phase II - Bangalore,Hyderabad, Surat, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Vishakhapatnam, Nagpur, Kanpur, Ludhiana, Thane, Jaipur, Vadodara, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Patna, Indore, Nashik, Agra, Kalyan - Dombivli, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Aurangabad, Mysore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Rajkot, Srinagar, Howrah, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Chandigarh, Meerut, Jodhpur, Solapur, Amritsar, Ranchi, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Faridabad.
However Phase III has now been stayed in 5 states, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, and deferred till March 2016, on the grounds of implementation issues and shortage of set top boxes (STBs).
What is the difference between Digitisation & CAS?
Digitisation is the process of providing cable television signals in digital rather than analog mode. This requires television signals to be routed through a digital Set Top Box to the television.
The system used to control the distribution of digital television signals is called a Conditional Access System or CAS. This ensures that only the signals chosen and paid for by a subscriber are able to be received by that subscriber.
What are the benefits of Digitisation?
It will provide a better TV viewing experience for consumers. They will enjoy better picture & sound clarity, enhanced services such HD & Video on Demand (VOD), a range of Interactive services and the freedom to choose from a bouquet of channels & pay only for those selected.
Post implementation of Digitisation, does everyone have to buy a Set Top Box?
Post implementation of Digitisation, a Set Top Box will be necessary to continue receiving signals from the service provider of your choice (Cable operator/DTH operator). The Set Top Box can be either procured from your existing cable operator or you can upgrade to a DTH operator of your choice. If you don't buy a Set Top Box before that you may not be able to continue watching cable television.
What if the cable operators do not provide a Set Top Box?
We are still many months away from the deadline. Why should I buy a Set Top Box immediately?
Before 31 March 2013 you will have to buy a Set Top Box to continue receiving cable or DTH signals on your TV in the above cities. Considering there will be likely a last minute rush which will result in hassle & complication of Set Top Box availability, delay in installation etc., it is a good idea to make the transition as early as possible. As buying a Set Top Box is inevitable, it is advisable to upgrade now to a Set Top Box and start enjoying the digital TV experience. For example, you can start enjoying the India Australia cricket series, the upcoming IPL cricket tournament or any of your favorite serials or movies in digital quality rather than postponing it.
Can I also buy a Set Top Box from my cable operator?
What should I look for when buying a Set Top Box – Digital cable vs DTH?
A number of factors should be considered before deciding which Set Top Box to buy. Make sure you do a thorough comparison between Set Top Box provided by Digital Cable and DTH. Few points to keep in mind before making a decision:
Expertise in Digital TV - Does the service provider have adequate experience, infrastructure, technology and relevant expertise to offer a good quality digital TV service. Do they have a track record of providing high quality Set Top Boxes and a reliable service to many consumers?
Types of Set Top Boxes - Does the service provider give you only 1 type of Set Top or does he have a range of different types of Set Top Boxes to meet your requirements ( such as a Standard definition box , a High definition box and a High Definition Digital Video Recorder box )
High Definition content - Does the service provider give you genuine HD channels?
Warranty – Does the service provider give a warranty on its Set Top Boxes?
Interactive services - In addition to TV channels, will you be able to choose from a range of interactive services for each member of the family?
High Definition (HD) service - Does the service provider give an HD service with the best of HD channels?
Convenience - Can you make your payments through a Helpline, mobile or on the Internet? Can you buy recharge vouchers and are they easily available?
Video on Demand service – Does the service provider give you a Video on Demand service which gives you access to a large library of movies, TV shows and concerts?
Channels of your choice - Will you have the option to choose your favorite channels / packages & only pay for those?
- Customer Service - Does the service provider offer good quality customer service with professional installation, after sales support (with 24x7 call centers), guidance & counseling in service enhancement?
Are there any problems in receiving a DTH service during rains?
DTH is a very reliable TV service which has now been in existence for several years. Millions of happy customers across the world have been watching television on DTH services. As TV signals are transmitted from a satellite and received via a dish and antennae, it is possible that sometimes there is interference due to rains. However such instances are really exceptions. In case of Tata Sky, the TV signal availability annually has been in excess of 99% in most parts of the country. This provides for a highly reliable and almost interference free service and compares very well with other services such as a mobile phone service. Moreover even a cable service can be susceptible to loss of signal due to a number of reasons.