India sets tough digitisation timetable

Phase 1 of India’s switch from analogue cable distribution to digital has not gone well. The four giant ‘metros’, which should have completely converted back in the summer, have seen slippage, delay and deliberate obfuscation in the task. On November 6th India’s government set out the next phase, with an especially tight timetable that it says is “sacrosanct” as far as cable MSO’s are concerned.

India’s Information & Broadcasting chief Uday Kumar Varma has called for 38 giant cities spread across 15 states the date of March 31st 2013 to have completed conversion.

Varma has called upon the cable industry to tell the Ministry how many digital set-top boxes they need in order to meet the March 31st deadline. The Ministry will launch an advertising campaign to explain the impending changes to consumers.

The new date should come as no surprise to the cable industry, given that it was issued with a formal notification back in 2011. But despite that early warning the four key ‘metros’ of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata  and Chennai are still struggling to complete their switchover. While Mumbai and Delhi have mostly completed their actions, there are still pockets of digitally unconnected homes in certain poorer parts of Delhi, while Kolkata has slipped to next week following on from Diwali. Chennai’s switchover is the subject of a regional Court case that’s due to be heard this Friday as to when their switch-off will happen.

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