Profiling IPTV (Part III): Technology Challenges and Pricing in India
Technology Challenges: SDTV versus HDTV
Not all the available set-top boxes in India are scalable from standard definition to high definition technology. Most of the IPTV or DTH set-top boxes are just meant for SDTV. Customer has the choice to choose HD compatible set-top box and pay much more for it. In addition he needs to have high definition LCD, plasma TV, etc.
Also one of the reasons why not many players are aggressively looking to promote IPTV services is because currently in India, TV program producers are not making programs in HD TV format.
The price drop in HDTV in India expected, as DishTV, Reliance BIG TV and Tata Sky satellite TV channel providers are having plan to start HDTV channels.
Experts say the push to HD TV has been prompted by the government’s decision that the 2010 Commonwealth Games will be broadcast only in high-definition. As a result, Doordarshan is also expected to launch HDTV on an experimental basis, has stated it will produce content for the Commonwealth in this format.
Sun Direct (DTH) is the only player either in DTH or IPTV or digital cable areas who is providing ‘Sun Direct HD’ which provides high definition broadcast service on the DTH platform in India. It provides two HD channel in India, both are movie channel and regional languages (Tamil and Telugu).
Technology Challenges: Network and Bandwidth
Challenges like robustness and scalability of IPTV technology. Choice of middleware platforms and video server architectures, changes in bandwidth requirements and availability and interoperability among enabling technology products are the key challenges to effectively delivering high-quality video services. The market is in its infancy and the more established commercial rollouts attracting limited take up. Growth of over-the-top (OTT) video consumption poses a particular challenge to the growth of IPTV, which shares many functional attributes with Internet video-such as time shifting, interactivity and on-demand program scheduling-but which currently still relies primarily on a subscription based revenue model.
Basic deployment challenges are classified as network issues like bandwidth drop offs that have a direct effect on video quality due to copper usage , operational issues like frequently updating routing tables, bandwidth issues and network management concerns and in home issues like wiring, interference, additional CPE requirements ,post installation requirement and multi-room DVR and HDTV requirement.
Pricing in India
Indian market is extremely sensitive to price and to succeed stakeholders will have to carefully price their services to win in a competitive environment. Currently, IPTV packages are aggressively priced. In fact some of the packages are at par with prices of DTH packages. However, cost of set top boxes are extremely high and needs to come down drastically to attract more subscribers. This can be the potential make or break for success of IPTV in the Indian market. The Indian market offers a great opportunity for set top box manufacturers for a long term growth. These manufacturers can look at innovative design models with low cost manufacturing capabilities to support mass demand from the Indian market. Companies would have to draw inspiration from mobile/handset manufacturers like Nokia, LG, Samsung, etc, who churned out low cost customized devices targeted at the Indian market. Globally companies are trying to integrate HDTV with a built-in set top box which acts as a multi compatible device that can support cable, DTH, and IPTV. The next wave of development in highly competitive markets like India and China might bring global innovation for IPTV.