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Cable TV digitization to aid Indian set top box, HD market

Over 19 million set top boxes are to be shipped to India during 2012 in order to fulfill the ambitious programme to digitize the country's cable network, ABI Research predicts.

The analysts also expect satellite TV in India to grow at a slower pace than last year, when 10 million subscribers took up new services from direct to home (DTH) operators.

Digital cable set top box (STB) deployments will, however, surge this year as larger operators begin their deployments, with the first phase of digitization in the major metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai set for 1 July 2012.

"The cable TV digitization, mandated by the government, will spur set top box shipment increases in India for the next several years," says Sam Rosen, principal analyst, ABI Research. Full digitization is scheduled by the end of 2014.

The consultancy believes India's cable digitization process will progress far slower than the government mandate specifies however – "otherwise, consumers will be forced to abandon cable in favor of satellite as cable operators struggle to procure the set top boxes", ABI says.

High definition (HD) TV adoption will also get a boost with digitization, though currently HD STBs account for just 11% of overall shipments in India.

"The increasing adoption of HDTV sets and cable TV digitization is expected to bring more HD channels and HD services in India," said Khin Sandi Lynn, research analyst, ABI.

Almost 70% of set-top boxes installed in Indian households are imported from foreign manufacturers, especially from China. In 2011, Huawei was the top STB vendor in India with 24% market share, followed by Pace with 12%. Chang Hong, Cisco, and Skyworth are also active in the Indian STB market.

Domestic STB production will increase – particularly for low cost STBs. Some overseas companies will also establish set-top box manufacturing facilities in India, ABI predicts in its new study, 'Indian Set Top Box Market'.

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