CAS: Talk the write!

Media & Entertainment

In context of the previous post, I not only wrote about it, I also talked what I wrote! I had raised this question at the FICCI-FRAMES 2004 forum. Here is a snapshot from their archive:

Synopsis of FRAMES 2004 : Addressability – Where do we go from here? (Terrestrial / DTH / CAS / Broadband: Friends, foes, cousins or brothers)

Host:
Ms. Janine Stein, Editor, Television Asia & Media Review
Keynote Address:
Mr. Doug Miller, Mg. Director, Walt Disney Asia Pacific
Panelists:
Mr. Derek Nottingham, Vice President, Systems Engineering & Customer Operations, NDS UK; Mr. Prakash Bajpai, President, Reliance Infocomm; Mr. Shantanu Aditya, President, SET Discovery Pvt Ltd; Mr. A K Shekhar, Country Sales Manager, Motorola Broadband; Mr. Ashok Mansukhani, Executive Vice President, Hinduja TMT

Host:
Everybody wants to talk about conditional access and the companies involved in for a few minutes and then we will move on to questions. I am hoping to make this no longer than an hour and then we may have half an hour for discussion at the end.

<snip> Read the transcript of the session </snip>

Host:
Derek thanks very much. I think we have had some really interesting presentations, lots of differing opinions. I am not going to sum up right now because we have run out of time. I think, it is just better to open the floor to questions. So, if there are any questions. Could you? Gentleman over there. (That's me being referred to…)

Participant:
Hi, I am Rahul Razdan from School of Convergence. I think considering the composition of the panel I think the only set of players who are missing out here are the manufacturers of white goods or television manufacturers…

I think, somehow the way television has evolved in India, it has been an aspiration(al) product for a long time and at some point in the mentality of a consumer, if I have to buy a branded television, the kinds of people spend, the LGs and Samsung and Phillips and Sony spent spend so much money on trying to convince me as a consumer to buy their television. If I have to belong plonk a Made in Taiwan or a Made in Tilak Nagar Set Top Box on top of that, there is a fundamental problem in that. I think, Reliance whenever they launch(ed) their mobile services they took care of this that all the handsets, use the word subsidy or any other word for that, they were all LG or Samsung handsets. At some point the consumer had a confidence in the hardware that was being offered. I think this is a fundamental lack in any such forum or the overall mentality of everybody who is addressing CAS.

Mr. Ashok Mansukhani:
When CAS was coming in or addressability was coming in most of the MSOs who have actually brought it into these four cities issued what are really global tenders. My company, for instance, issued a global tender. We short-listed approximately 20 parties and once we had appointed a Swiss company, which is one of the world’s largest conditional access providers, we asked that company to be our systems aggregator. That company then selected two Set Top Box manufacturers, one in Europe and one in Asia, in terms of volume and quality and we ensured that the boxes that we brought in were definitely the best that we could find in the world.

With this guarantee that as we brought in more and more pay per view services and value added services you didn’t have to change the box, smart card would have to be changed. These companies have come to India for the first time but let me assure you these companies are among the world’s best. The question really is that as and when mass deployment of boxes will happen issues of maintenance, issues of changing the box, issues of how fast smart cards will change, these are all learning experiences we will go through. But let me assure you we are not bringing you Tilak Nagar stuff. We are bringing you world-class quality for Tilak Nagar audiences also.

Host:
Thank you very much. We have time for one more question. (They wanted to wind up the question time after one question!!)

Well I liked his answer, but these guys never understood my point about commoditization (of set-top boxes) leading to 'de-aspirationalization'. And I also realized I hammed while talking and therefore some of the edits…

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2 thoughts on “CAS: Talk the write!

  1. I wonder if Set Top Boxes can be configured locally…or rather…reverse-engineered…coz it won’t work without a Smart card.

    And if you went to buy the smart card alone from SCV (as happens in Chennai)…the guy is bound to ask you: “so, where did you buy the Set Top box?” Because he is the only supplier.

    Though I am not so sure about scv being the only Set Top Box vendor

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  2. Jammy, the fundamental (and I assumed, mandatory) principle to make STBs work is ‘interoperability’. The best example of that is GSM mobile phones. Where any make of phone (Nokia, Motorola, LG etc.) works with any service provider (Airtel, Hutch, IDEA etc.). Similarly, a user should be able to pick any smart-card and be able to use it with any STB.

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