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Hinduja Ventures to enter STB distribution biz for its HITS project

MUMBAI: The board of directors of Hinduja Ventures Ltd (HVL) at its meeting today has approved embarking into the business of distribution of set-top boxes (STBs) for its headend-in-the-sky (HITS) project NXT Digital, which is housed under Grant Investrade Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.

The distribution of the STBs is envisaged on cash-and-carry basis to support its media venture.

As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, HVL plans to invest Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 bn) in NXT Digital, which was recently launched by Minister for Information & Broadcasting (MIB) Arun Jaitley.

“The project size minimum is Rs 5,000 crore which the group is committed to invest,” Hinduja Ventures chairman Ashok Hinduja had told the media recently.

“This can go up. It has the potential to go up to Rs 5,000–10,000 crore (Rs 50–100 billion). It all depends on how the market is accepting this technology,” he stated.

The investment will be towards set-top boxes (STBs), cable operator premise equipment (COPE) mini-headend systems, and infrastructure.

Earlier this month, Grant Investrade had received the wireless operating licence (WOL) from Wireless Planning & Coordination Wing of the Ministry of Communications & Information technology to start operations.

NXT Digital is targeting local cable operators (LCOs) in digital addressable system (DAS) Phases III and IV. The HITS service will provide MPEG4 STBs to LCOs at affordable price. NXT Digital is capable of delivering 500 channels to customers.

The HITS service provider will offer two service models, White Label and Full Service, to the LCOs.

In the White Label Service Model, the MSOs or LCOs in the DAS areas will do the content deals on their own. They will enter into a tripartite agreement with the broadcaster and Nxt Digital. The LMO will pay subscription fee directly to the broadcaster.

The Full Service Model is for MSOs or LMOs who do not have DAS licence. For these operators, Nxt Digital will enter into tripartite contracts with the broadcasters and pay subscription fee to the broadcasters.

In both the models, the operators will have to invest in the STBs and digital headend, which is available in three tiers—Bronze, Silver and Gold. The LMOs will be able to offer 300+ services in the Bronze tier, 400+ services in Silver and 500+ services in Gold.

The Bronze, Silver, and Gold tiers are available at Rs 8.9 lakh, Rs 12.9 lakh and Rs 13.9 lakh respectively.

NXT Digital will also provide the backend service to operators. It will charge a service fee of Rs 20 per subscriber from the operators.

It has hired seven C-band transponders from Thaicom and selected Nagravision DLK for conditional access system (CAS), OpenTV1 for Middleware, and Hansen Technologies for subscription management system and billing solutions. Castle Media is the technology programme managers for the HITS service.

The STBs will be provided by Changhong, Telesystems and others. LMOs will have to buy a minimum of 20 STBs at any given point. The company is in talks with NBFCs to provide financing for procuring STBs.