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India’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) say that the supply and installation of digital converter boxes to consumers as part of the all-important Phase III digitisation programme is not going well.
One report tells the MIB that they must “get their act together” if the December 31st 2015 complete conversion is to happen. The plan – or hope – is that India will then have a complete penetration of ‘digital addressable system’ STBs.
One of the pending problems is that many MSOs have yet to sign basic interconnect agreements with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). TRAI has now issued a deadline of April 30th to sign these agreements.
The latest information suggests that only 3.1 million STBs have been issued and connected by just 37 MSOs, with another 550,000 still in stock and another 2.35 million on order.
The adoption of digital converter boxes has seen a long history of missed completion dates and embarrassing foul-ups. The story is one of legal challenges, capitulating regional governments, and delaying moves by just about everyone concerned.
For example, the Phase I plan (covering India’s 4 largest cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai) should have happened by October 2012. The date was missed. Phase II saw the conversion of 38 major cities, and should have wrapped by March 2013. The date was missed. This Third Phase, covering India’s remaining urban areas, ought to have been completed by November 2014, and shows little sign of hitting its new December 2015 target date.
The final Phase IV covers the rest of India, mostly suburban and rural areas, also should have completed by December 31st 2014, and has now slipped to December 31st 2016.