Ravi Mansukhani, Managing Director of leading Indian cable operator InCablenet, gives his predictions for the country’s TV landscape and the impact that the looming digital switchover is going to have.
Ravi will be speaking at the TV Connect Asia event taking place in Hong Kong on 9th-10th April 2013. For more information and to register, please visit http://asia.tvconnectevent.com
“At present the government is acting on three policies for the Indian cable industry that will have a major positive impact on its future,” says Ravi. “Firstly the Digitisation Policy, which means that India’s cable networks are to be totally digital by December 2014, with the state-run terrestrial TV network achieving the same by 2017.
“Secondly the National Broadband Policy: today, India is one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world. The government plans to make available affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and broadband services across the entire country. The target is to have 175mn broadband connections by 2017 and 600mn by 2020.
“The third policy is for a Unified Licence: this will enable end users to get the various services like mobile, landline, broadband, voice, DTH, cable and IPTV from a single company. The evolution from analogue to digital will facilitate the convergence of voice, data and video.”
Ravi estimates that there are currently over 60,000 local cable operators and 6,000 independent cable operators that operate their own headends in India, along with six national MSOs that service about 45% of the country’s 100mn cable homes.
“There will be massive consolidation as most of the operators will not be able to provide digital service adhering to the QoS guidelines. While this consolidation takes place, large international players in the convergence space will step in and consolidate on a national level. The six national MSOs may be reduced to three.”
He believes that while telecoms operators are currently finding it “tough going” as they have no access to the last mile network, the digitisation and consolidation happening in the cable space should result in total transparency and control to the MSO, meaning that the last mile will no longer be a challenge, and could even bring a few mergers of telecom and cable companies.
Broadband will be a key driver for the cable industry in India and will help in product innovation and uptake of multiple products, predicts the InCablenet chief, who also expects MSOs to start offering their own server-based localised content packages in different parts of the country.
Ravi makes five specific predictions for the Indian cable industry in 2013: the first phase of the digital switchover in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata will successfully be completed only by March 31st of this year; the second phase of the digital switchover will most likely be postponed to July of this year; broadcasters’ balance sheets will start looking healthier; a neutral digital distribution platform (HITS) will be launched for MSOs and operators across India; and multiple joint ventures and mergers will occur within the cable space.