TataSky starved of capacity

Bosses at India’s TataSky DTH operation say they are desperate for additional transponder capacity, and are being deliberately stymied by officials at state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which administers all satellite activity over the sub-Continent. TataSky says it is contemplating legal actions against ISRO.

TataSky uses Insat 4A as its core orbital service. TataSky MD Harit Nahpal says that an agreement with ISRO should have meant that extra capacity would be made available when needed. He says that TataSky first wrote to ISRO in 2007 requesting more capacity, and had contracted for 12 additional transponders on the GSat-10 craft launched last Autumn.  But Nahpal says they are still waiting for the capacity to be made available. Gsat-10 operates at the same 83 degrees East location as Insat 4A.

“[India’s] DTH policy says that between an Indian and foreign satellite, the operator should give preference to the Indian satellite. In fact, Dish TV, the first DTH operator, started with ISRO and switched to a foreign satellite within six months, ditto for Airtel in 2010. Sun Direct lost customers when INSAT 4C, the satellite it was on, lost power all of a sudden (in 2010). But we stuck to ISRO.” He also added, “If all else fails, I am within my rights to approach the judiciary, since ISRO is four years behind the contracted date. There is a good chance that we will have to use the legal option,” added Nagpal.

“We have been in touch with ISRO for a long time. We have written 100 emails to the ISRO chairman, met at least three to four times in the past six months. I know he wants to move things [along],” says Nagpal. “But despite his wanting nothing is.”

ISRO say that the request is stuck in India’s labyrinthine bureaucracy.

Nagpal says TataSky has 10 million dishes pointing to the location, and Nagpal is now contemplating legal action to compel the government and its agencies to action. “I have been waiting for six years for my satellite transponders to be given to me. It has gone on long enough. There are no problems with my application; everything is sorted out. I am one of their main customers; so why such an extended delay?” he states.

As an alternate strategy, Nagpal says TataSky is spending $200 million to convert to MPEG4 transmission. He says that there would be an immediate 70 per cent saving in capacity allowing it to keep pace with its rivals.

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