Dec 26, 2008

Business - India;DTH players told to work together, pool resources

New Delhi, Dec. 24 The DTH industry is wasting spectrum on the Ku Band, and can work together and pool resources, said Dr G. Madhavan Nair, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space.

Direct-to-Home operators have been queuing up at ISRO for transponders to accommodate the country’s many television channels. The satellite agency can give them space on its own satellites, or lease transponders on international satellite for DTH operators.

But at the rate at which DTH players are expanding, and new channels are being launched, ISRO fears it will be hard to accommodate them. Dr Nair, who was in the Capital for an event organised to felicitate the team behind the successful Chandrayaan-1 Moon mission, suggests operators pool their resources.

DTH players are not allowed exclusive content, which in effect means that all of them offer pretty much the same set of channels. A shared beam can be used by different operators using a standard set top box with different codes, or id cards that would identify the operator, suggests Dr Nair.

Dish TV the country’s first and leading player says theoretically sharing of infrastructure and satellite is possible, but it is an idea that should have been thought of at the licensing stage. “It is being done in Australia and maybe it is something the new players can explore. But it is a little late in the day for the current players, who have not only made huge investments but also have differently encrypted boxes,” said Mr Jawahar Goel, Managing Director, Dish TV.

Right now, the country’s needs are met by 200 transponders. By the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan ISRO hopes to have 500 transponders. “It is extremely difficult to come by orbital slots, there are very few left in space. It is with great difficulty that we managed to get the five orbital slots we have,” said Dr Nair.

ISRO recently also built a satellite (W2M) for Eutelsat, and is building one more for the United Kingdom. At the cost of $30-40 million, Dr Nair believes ISRO can make significant profit from building satellites for the international market.

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