Narendra Vishwakarma, Dy. General Manager-Satellite Broadcasting, Dish TV India Limited
Today's booming era for television content distribution and flash changes in technology is challenge for it. In television broadcasting, most operators are ensuring sharp picture and HD video quality on attractive price, giving customers the power to choose the channels, offering interactive television environment such as video-on-demand (VOD) and gaming on the multimedia platform.
In India, popular platforms are DTH, cable TV, and terrestrial TV network; indeed there is another technology called over-the-top (OTT) where Internet service provider allows to access content on handheld devices.
OTT content can control and distribute video content in digital packets in broadcast media to many devices with active sync. This model contrasts with the purchasing or rental of video or audio from providers, such as pay-TV, VOD, and from Internet protocol television (IPTV). OTT refers to content from a third party that is delivered to an end-user, with the media service provider simply transporting IP packets.
Presently, OTT is confronting the scarcity of bandwidth but in coming era the OTT will be a common platform and it will turn traditional soon; so DTH and multi-system operators (MSOs) are also planning to deliver TV content through OTT, which provides to customer more interactive and comfortable access to the content. In forthcoming period, bandwidth battle will be on network layer among the operators; higher network fleet provides wide coverage and helps to add mass customers. So DTH and MSOs are planning to hybrid their services to deliver their services on OTT platform online and offline spring.
Changes have been made under the Act of cable television digitization ordinance by the government, due to which almost all content delivery systems have been converted from analog to digital countywide. MSOs and large cable operators, such as SITI Cable, DIGI Cable, INcablenet, and Hathway, have brought many of the smaller operators under their fold, thereby leading to business consolidation. Thus more organized content distribution industry means more collections. Digitization provides transparency of viewership count to the authority and for the government it is the head count of viewers to collect taxes. Consequentially, now single database can count the whole country's viewership through registered users.
In case of free-to-air satellite services, still some challenges exist for registration of users in their networks like in DD Direct Network, free satellite services are available for customers within the Indian geographical area, where anybody can access free services by a small satellite dish antenna or Yagi/arial antenna for their televising need. . Presently, DD Direct DTH and DD Terrestrial Television (DTT) in some cities are allowed for digital TV content to such users. They are planning to register them on their network through CAS (conditional access system), as announced by the DD authorities to encrypt the data and sync with indigenous CAS system, but services will be free-to-air for the registered users.
If consumers already have a paid DTH service, it will not affect much. But there are still millions of people in remote areas where network does not reach on digitization, and who still have the age-old cable network at home. They need to decide soon whether to switch to DTH or upgrade to digital cable.
This year, DD Direct pay load enhanced with more services with added MPEG -4 video encoding in GSAT-15 for their customers. This satellite (GSAT-15), which was launched in the end of 2015, has 24 transponders of Ku-band. Now Dish TV DTH and Sun DTH plan to boot their services on GSAT-15.
Still DTH operators are facing the scarcity of satellite bandwidth and ISRO as the administrator of satellite operators is looking for more space for DTH operators for cost-effective services in India.
To utilize maximum satellite bandwidth of geostationary satellite, major television broadcasters and DTH operators have upgraded their technologies or are planning to upgrade, such as DVB-S2 and DVB-S2X with MPEG-4 and H.265 HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) for content more condense encoding, which helps them to enhance the capacity of data to carry more HDTV services in the existing bandwidth, so more additional HD (high-definition) and UHD (ultra-high definition) content delivery is possible through HEVC technology, because so many broadcasters are planning to produce their content on HD technology in maximum numbers of services on their bouquet.
In this situation, DTH operators and MSO operators are trying to provide new set-top boxes that support DVB-S2 and DVB-C2 with HEVC decoding so that future updation content load can be decoded by customer premises equipment without additional cost.
Recently, DTH operators have captured huge customer base ofclose communities such as residential societies, hotels, corporate offices and community-based group customers.
Previously, DTH operators were not able to provide the single-polarity signal through RF carrier cables unlike cable distributors who had the single-polarity signal in their RF carrier cables, which can extend by amplification and thus many customers' connection is possible through single-drive signal. On the other hand, DTH signal comes through satellite and is distributed to individual customers' homes through multi-polarity signal Ku-Low Ku-High, horizontal, and vertical polarity. This multi-polarity could not possibly extend the signal to multi customers, unless they installed the complicated MDU system, which was a high-cost solution. Now DTH operators have encountered this challenge and have adopted the technology named dCSS (Digital Channel Stacking Technology). In this technology, single-cable distribution is possible. DTH Ku-band signal converts through dCSS LNBF and L-band signal can extend up to many customers in a cascade way through line amplification in communities and hotels, without placing more satellite reception antennas. It is very cost effective and easy to install at customer's place. Additionally, it can merge with local service insertion option, if required, for CATV.
This option is very popular in hotels and corporate places; currently many hotels have adopted this technology offered by DTH operators to hotel business. They are using satisfactory uninterruptable services in every room through single-cable distribution extended from one satellite receive antenna, and enjoying their own TV channels too by inserting through CATV head-end with DTH TV service bouquet.
In very near future, the DTH and MSOs will adopt OTT in the form of online and offline delivery with their existing services. This will be very competitive when other major telecom operators also jump in to deliver OTT services through broadband connection but they have no dedicated bandwidth yet to constant and reliable HD and UHD content delivery to the customers in comparison to DTH TV delivery although India has a huge demand for Internet and satellite bandwidth and it will become the world's top-level demand in terms of consumption of digital media.
In this phase of digitization, other challenges are with TV content distributors that government norms are flexi with OTT protocol. Still there is no concrete policy for OTT delivery through Internet. There is TV content from world over, which can be streamed anywhere in India. To regularize them, there is need to revise the existing policy for copyright content distribution and it will prevent illegal content distribution over the globe.