January 2017

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Q: 1. The Government wants cable networks to deliver internet to consumers. If this is done using our existing cable network, will it not reduce the number of TV channels that we can give our customers?

2. I have also read somewhere that LCO's have been warned to use good quality equipment or they will face government action because their signals are causing interference for telephone companies at 700 Mhz. Is this true? DAS Networks get a license for operating upto 862 MHz, then how can mobile TV companies complain and stop our signals?

G.N. Raju, Andhra Pradesh, by email.

ANS: 1. If the entire forward path spectrum of 48 to 860 MHz is utilised for digital cable TV, it will support almost 1000 standard definition TV channels using MPEG-2 digital compression. If MPEG-4 digital compression is utilised, the forward path spectrum will support approx. 2000 standard definition TV channels.

Currently, a Siti Cable Headend delivers 454 digital channels. This is the maximum number of channels delivered by any cable network in India. (According to the TRAI's current report)

Clearly, there is more than enough forward path bandwidth for cable TV even after keeping aside some bandwidth/frequencies for delivering internet using cable modems.

2. The Cable Act more than 20 years ago has made it compulsory for all cable networks to only utilise high quality cable TV equipment i.e. cable TV equipment that meets BIS specifications. Hence what you have read regarding possible action against cable TV networks for using poor quality equipment is correct. That law is more than 20 years old!

Even 20 years ago, the Government wanted to ensure that cable TV networks do not cause interference with Doordarshan's TV channels.

Poor quality coaxial cables (which do not have adequate shielding) and connectors will radiate Cable TV signals into the air and cause interference with other terrestrial signals like Doordarshan's TV channels, mobile phone signals, etc.

Even though the DAS license allows you to operate at 700 MHz, the DAS license also specifies that all rules of the Cable TV Act are followed. This includes the compulsory use of good quality (BIS approved) coaxial cables, and other equipment.

Now, the Government plans to auction the 700 MHz frequency band to mobile phone operators, who will pay several 1000 crores rupees for the spectrum. Obviously, these telephone companies will not tolerate any interference from the local cable TV network.

Typically, cable TV networks now use optical fibre over large parts of their network. Optical fibre does not cause any interference and they can be safely used. Hence it is best to use as much optical fibre as possible, deep into your network to deliver signals to customers. This will ensure zero interference with TV and telephone signals.


Q: What is OTT ? How is it different from Cable TV ? Is OTT available in India ?

FAS Paul, By E-mail.

ANS: In broadcasting, Over-The-Top content (OTT) is the delivery of audio, video, and other media over the Internet without the involvement of a MSO who controls the delivery of the content.

OTT is delivered as internet data, and the Internet provider may be aware of the contents of the Internet Protocol packets but is not responsible for, nor able to control, the viewing abilities, copyrights, and/or other redistribution of the content.

This model contrasts with the purchasing or rental of video or audio content via pay television, video on demand or an IPTV video service.

OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the ISP simply transporting IP data / packets.

The most appealing fact about OTT is that it provides video to the user, when he / she wants to view it. Hence OTT provides Video On Demand. Further, the video is delivered to smartphones, smart TVs and any other device connected to the internet and capable of playing back video, such as a PC, or tablet.

Some of the major OTT platforms in India, offering OTT Pay services are:

♣ ErosNow (Eros)

♣ Hotstar (Star India)

♣ Netflix

♣ BigFlix (Reliance Media)

♣ NyooTV

♣ BoxTV (Times Internet)

♣ DittoTV ( Zee )

♣ ZengaTV

♣ Spuul

♣ Youtube

♣ Voot (Viacom)

♣ Ozee (Zee)

There are, at present, 176 million OTT viewers active in the country generating revenues in excess of $500 million (Rs. 350 Crores).

With the number of Indian smartphone users projected to cross 702 million by the year 2020, we can expect more than 100 million unique monthly OTT viewers using the medium for entertainment. Clearly, here is immense scope for the OTT business in India to grow.

Dish Doctor
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