Imported STBs cost India millions

A year ago, a typical DTH set-top box might have cost 800 Rupees (about $20 at the time). Now they cost nearer 1600 Rupees (worth $26 a today’s exchange rate). The difference entirely caused by the dramatic decline of the Rupee against most other major currencies. But the price rise means that millions of Indians have put off buying a new box for the nation’s all-important analogue-to-digital conversion process.

DTH market leader Dish TV says that it will start sourcing locally-produced digital set-top boxes. Jawahar Goel, managing director, Dish TV India, said on a recent analyst call, “Given the depreciating Rupee, we are evaluating possibilities for improvement in hardware economics of consumer premises equipment (CPE) sourced from India. We have also been considering options with our overseas suppliers to commence production at a base in India.”

Dish TV is already subsidising imported boxes to the tune of some 250 Rupees to bridge the gap. The government has tried to kick-start local production by raising import tax on foreign boxes from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

Goel said they have enough stock to see themselves through the next three to four months demand, by which time they hope that local production will have started.

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