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Asianet to invest Rs 200 mn in broadband biz in FY15; upgrades to Docsis 3.0

MUMBAI: Kerala’s leading multi-system operator (MSO)  Asianet Satellite Communications is eyeing a 50 per cent growth in its broadband subscriber growth due to the upgrading of its network from Docsis 2.0 to Docsis 3.0 which will allow it to provide high-speed internet in God’s own country.

Asianet has a broadband base of 125,000 subscribers, which makes it the tenth largest ISP in the country.

The company will invest Rs 20 crore ( Rs 200 million) in its broadband business this fiscal, which includes upgrading its network to Docsis 3.0 technology.

G Shankaranarayana“We are planning to invest Rs 20 crore in our broadband business in FY15. We had made similar investments in the last financial year. We are looking at a 50 per cent growth in our subscriber base due to the upgrading to Docsis 3.0,” Asianet Satellite Communications president and COO G Sankaranarayana told TelevisionPost.com.

The Rajan Raheja-owned MSO has selected Cisco to deploy Docsis 3.0, which is a key component of the Cisco IP NGN architecture. The Docsis 3.0 technology will allow Asianet to provide speeds of up to 300 Mbps per subscriber.

Asianet’s average revenue per user (ARPU) from its broadband business is Rs 550, Sankaranarayana revealed. The MSO will provide Docsis 3.0 broadband at a price range of Rs 620 to Rs 2,500.

Sankaranarayana added that the pilot run for Docsis 3.0 had started 3–4 months back in Trivandrum and Cochin. The MSO was already providing 20 Mbps speed to its customers in these two cities which will now be upgraded to 50 Mbps. In Docsis 2.0, the MSO was providing broadband speed from 4 to 12 Mbps.

“We aim to provide speed of 100 Mbps in six months to one year time in the whole state. The Docsis 2.0 technology will exist simultaneously and will be phased out eventually,” Sankarnarayana said.

The Docsis 3.0 broadband will be next rolled out in Kollam, Kotayam, Thrissur, Calicut, Palakkad and Cannanore.

Sankarnarayana said Asianet was in a perfect position to provide bundled service of high-speed internet and digital cable as it had already digitised 80 per cent of its cable TV universe.

“We are bundling our cable TV and broadband service, and are providing combo plans to our customers,” he asserted.

Asianet, which has a cable TV universe of 600,000 subscribers, has digitised 500,000 subscribers. “We started digitising our universe 3–4 years back. We have, thus, been able to digitise faster,” he averred.

The MSO currently provides 200 standard-definition (SD) and 14 high-definition (HD) channels to its digital cable subscribers. “We plan to expand our digital cable offering to 400 channels shortly,” Sankaranarayana stated.

With the deployment of this technology, Asianet will be uniquely positioned to offer video experience on the same coaxial cable that delivers its high-quality digital video. Docsis technology allows cable operators to reuse their existing cable plants to offer broadband services by upgrading them to two-way networks.

“We decided to renew our strategies and offerings with a focus on delivering compelling customer services. We are already seeing a lot of appetite for our new offerings in the market and will be the first MSO to offer speeds of up to 50 Mbps per subscriber in the state, in the first phase, followed by 100 Mbps service in Phase 2,” he expounded.

Cisco regional manager, service provider, India & SAARC Sandeep Arora said, “Our engagement with Asianet has the potential to transform the cable and broadband industry in Kerala. Considering the highly competitive and fragmented broadband market, this deal propels Asianet to the pinnacle of the industry in the region.”

Hathway Cable & Datacom, the sister company of Asianet Satellite Communciations, recently rolled out Docsis 3.0 service in Bengaluru. It also offers this high-speed broadband service in Mumbai and Pune.