Broadcom Corp, the US-based chipmaker, has pledged support to India’s ambitious move of developing its first home-grown Conditional Access System (CAS) for cable television.
It is already in discussions with Bengaluru-based ByDesign India, which was selected last year to build the Indian CAS for a total project cost of ₹30 crore by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeiTY).
The new system, which will be ready later this year, is expected to bring down the cost of set top boxes and speed up the much-delayed cable TV digitisation process. “We are a CAS-neutral company, but we closely work with CAS developers for certification and readying the security architecture,” Brett Tischler, Associate Product Line Director, Broadband Communications at Broadcom, said on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronic Show.
India has missed several deadlines to digitise the cable TV sector, which involves routing signals through set-top boxes that can track the channels being watched by viewers. The company has developed a low-cost chip keeping in mind the frugal needs of Indian cable operators. The need to develop an Indian CAS was felt because of the strong influence exerted by international CAS vendors. To put things in perspective, international CAS players are said to charge about $2-5 as a licence fee on every set-top box. On the other hand, the Indian CAS will be made available to domestic vendors at $0.5 for three years.
Tischer believes that digitisation can be more successful in India if local banks put their weight behind smaller cable TV operators.
“In phase 1 and 2 of digitisation, most of the financing for cable TV operators came from overseas sources. In phase 3 and 4, it would be ideal to have the Indian financial system support these operators who are being asked to do something that is technical and expensive,” Tischer added.