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INR1bn investment as Asianet pushes for India’s first digital MSO crown

Asianet Satellite Communications is aiming to become the first multi system operator (MSO) in India to offer full digital cable TV services when it switches off its analogue signal within a year, following a planned investment of INR 1 billion, according to Indiantelevision.com.

One of its previously analogue networks in Trivandum is reportedly now fully digital, with five bouquet options already providing subscribers with 150 digital TV channels. This figure will escalate to 220 channels in the next three months.

"We have become the first cable TV service provider in India to achieve this milestone, well ahead of the national government's full digitisation mandate by December 2014. We have 75,000 direct subscribers in Trivandrum and our target is to completely digitise our network in Kerala within nine months," Sankaranarayana, president and chief operating officer, Asianet Satellite Communications told Indiantelevision.com.

With 615,000 direct subscribers, the Kerala-based regional MSO says it needs to invest INR 750 million in order to convert its customers to its digital cable service, offering them subsidised set top boxes. It also plans to provide some digitisation for those secondary subscribers who receive the service via other cable operators.

Digitisation will increase the average revenue per user (ARPU) from INR 150 to INR 200, according to the company, which is also improving its broadband and value-added offering in the process through a tie-up with Cisco.

The current high definition (HD) channels MoviesNow and MTunes are to be augmented with greater HD content, and Sankaranarayana says Asianet will also launch movies on demand, games, and other value added services soon.

The regional MSO also runs the channels ACV, Rosebowl, Jukebox, Jukebox Plus and Medley.

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