Hathway Cable Considers Adopting Headend In The Sky Technology

Mumbai: | Updated: Jan 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
Hathway Cable & Datacom is considering adoption of Headend in the Sky technology as one of the options to provide cable TV service. Headend in the Sky, which provides digitally compressed programming via satellite with a uniform encryption system of the multi system operator (MSO), will enable the operator to save on costs as it will require a single rather than multiple headends.

Through a centralised headend, Hathway will be able to service its customers across various cities of the country. We havent finalised on anything. But we are also examining this option, said a source.

The major hurdle in implementing this, however, will be to get all broadcasters under the platform. Under this technology, the MSO will have to contract transponder space in a satellite for beaming the signals of all channels. Broadcasters as well as local cable operators may not find this the right kind of arrangement. Simply because access to the customers will be directly through the centralised headend. We have to involve the local cable operator who has to manage the last mile and collect the bills. But local operators may not feel secured as the set-top box control will be with the centralised headend, the source said.

The possibility of the MSOs forming a common Headend in the Sky is ruled out, said the source. Even if the MSOs decide on the technology, each will do it individually, said the source.

Implementing Headend in the Sky, thus, may be a tough decision for Hathway to take. The market may not also accept such a concept as the broadcasters are highly divided on the issue.

Again, if Headend in the Sky was to be used, the subscribers are required to have digital set-top boxes instead of analogue ones.

With July 14 set as the deadline set by information & broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj to begin the rollout of conditional access systems (CAS), Hathway prefers to install digital boxes as they will be piracy-proof. If we are settling for analogue boxes, we may have to reinvest in the digital system later, said the source.

But since there is a price gap between the analogue and the digital boxes, Hathway will take a final call only after the government announces the pricing of the basic tier. It will also depend on what the neighbouring networks are offering, the source said.