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STBs deadline ends on Sept 19

Highlights

STB installations at a snail’s pace 14 lakh households yet to opt for STBs in Hyd STB...

  • STB installations at a snail’s pace
  • 14 lakh households yet to opt for STBs in Hyd
  • STB cost hiked exorbitantly due to short supply

Victor Rao

Hyderabad: As the September 19 deadline for households to install set-top boxes (STBs) nears, around 14 lakh households have yet to go for them in Hyderabad. Confusion prevails among service providers, cable operators and consumers mainly because of the government’s vagueness about the whole process of digitisation.

As per official figures, there are 3.6 million cable TV consumers in Hyderabad, of which, 0.6 million are covered by DTH services. The balance 2.6 million are at the mercy of cable TV operators. Of them 1.2 million have bought STBs. STB affords better picture quality, true-wide screen formats, video-on demand, interaction gaming, video recording and playback and other related services.

With just four days to go and the government is hell bent on switching to digitilisation, there has been fretfulness among the operators and customers. “I purchased a STB of Hathaway make in July. Needless to say, the picture quality is good, but of late I have been getting an error message ‘Transmission is suspended.’

I took it to the notice of the local cable operator who in turn asked me to contact the head office at Baseerbagh. I am running from pillar to post to get this rectified,” fumes Raman Rao who works in a media house.While Multiple Service Operators (MSOs) like Digicable, Siticable and Hathway amongst others are trying their best to provide STBs, they say they also face a loss because of the unaffordable rates.

A cable operator from Trimulgherry says: "We have more than a thousand customers. Many who could not afford STBs gave up their connection altogether. This hit our business, but we have conform to the law." Local cable operators who provide connectivity from MSOs estimate that in the last one month, the GHMC area alone had accounted for more than six lakh installations of STBs.

With the demand for the STBs surging by the day, MSOs have begun charging steeply and customers have no option but cough it up. A dealer of Hathway device from RP Road, Secunderabad, is charging Rs 1,500 for an STB while his counterpart from Saidabad is charging 1200. The inconsistency in prices is just another way of fleecing customers of their money by coercing them to go for digitization.

This apart, many who have got STBs are having a nightmarish experience. Change of addresses, technical glitches and so on are testing their patience. “Set-top boxes available in the market are of low quality and do not have BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) star ratings,” says a disgruntled customer under Marredpally area.

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