Author: Economic times
NEW DELHI: Dish TV, India’s largest direct-to-home (DTH) operator, is set to launch Conditional Access Module (CAM), a device that will enable consumers with set-top boxes of other DTH service providers to switch to Dish TV’s feed of television channels.
The product, branded as Dish Freedom, is priced at Rs 990, which includes an annual subscription of 95 channels. The consumer will be required to insert the device into a built-in slot on the set-top box and realign the dish antennae to the DTH service provider’s frequencies, which could entail extra installation cost of Rs 100-150.
Popular in Europe, CAM is a small gadget that enables consumers to shift from one DTH service provider to another without buying a new set-top box. “We expect inactive DTH households in metros and smaller cities which are not happy with their direct-to-home connections to buy our product and switch to Dish TV signals,” said Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV.
The product will initially be available in five locations in the country, before the company expands distribution to other locations.
In India, there are about 37 million DTH users, of which 3-5 million are inactive, as per industry estimates. There are currently six DTH service providers, including Tata Sky, Videocon D2H, Airtel digital television, Reliance digital TV and Sun Direct.
According to Trai’s regulations, all set-top boxes sold by DTH service providers should be CAM-compliant. The industry has been battling with the issue of interoperability as different DTH service providers use different broadcast technology formats such as MPEG2 and MPEG4 to air television channel signals.
The market for CAM would be small and it does not provide attractive cost benefits for customers, said senior industry executives. “The consumer will be able to watch only some television channels, but would not be able to access other additional services like pay-per-view through CAM,” said a senior marketing head of a leading DTH firm.
The cost of a new DTH connection starts at Rs 1,390-1,690, which could include content subscription for two-three months. Dish TV, which uses MPEG 2 technology, said that its CAM can be used on MPEG4 set-top boxes to receive its feed of channels. But players that use MPEG4 technology said that it is not technically possible for them to launch the CAM that can be used on MPEG2 set-top boxes to access television signals.
Experts believe that if technical and commercial challenges are sorted out and conditional access modules take off, it will help consumers to switch to another service provider just as mobile number portability has helped subscribers to switch connections.
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