Capacity crunch may affect DTH expansion


Dream Expert
30 Sep 2012
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Do you enjoy watching your favourite serials and
cricket matches on HD channels? If you are a
Direct-To-Home (DTH) television customer, there
may be some bad news for you. Your DTH
provider may be facing some capacity
constraints in offering you more television
channels, especially in the HD format. HD, or
high definition, format allows a viewer to enjoy
much better picture quality as it offers a
resolution that is much higher than that of
standard definition TV. And to do that, it takes
up more bandwidth on a satellite transponder.

The KU-band transponders are the lifeline for
DTH operations. Limitations on the availability of
KU band transponders can critically hamper their

That there is a looming capacity crunch in the
satellite transponder industry that could affect
any expansion plans of your DTH operator has
been captured in a report prepared by consulting
firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The report
was released by Casbaa at its India Forum 2016
held on 22 March in New Delhi. Casbaa is Asia
Pacific’s non-profit media association for the
multi-channel television, audio-video content and
distribution industries.

According to the report, the projected channel
growth in India will result in a huge demand-
supply gap in transponder capacity in the
country. It is not that transponders are not
available, but accessing those transponders is a
cumbersome process, the report observed. But
more on that later.

Currently, DTH operators offer close to 50 HD
channels, three times what they were offering in
2013. This number is expected to go up to 130
by 2017. That is not all. As India moves ahead
with Phase 3 and Phase 4 of digitization,
especially with the growth of television
consumption outside the urban areas, the DTH
share of Indian pay-TV subscribers will increase
to 41% by 2019. “This expanding customer base
along with the proliferation of HD channels will
mean a large need for transponders,” the report

Surprisingly, the transponder capacity
requirement of the DTH industry has always been
met by foreign satellite firms. Today only 25% of
India’s DTH transponder capacity is being served
by Indian satellites. This happened because, as
the DTH industry grew, its demand for
transponders outstripped the Isro ability to
increase supply. Isro, or the Indian Space
Research Organisation, is the space agency of
the Indian government that also allows
broadcasters and DTH operators to use its
satellite transponders for their businesses. Out of
a total of 78 transponders used by DTH
providers, 59 belong to foreign satellite

Take a look at some more statistics to
understand the crunch faced by DTH providers.
Today, most DTH operators are able to carry
only 50% of the total channels available through
cable networks owing to the limited number of
transponders that are available. This puts them
in a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis cable
operators. According to the report, this gap will
only widen going forward. The DTH industry will
require 200 transponders in the next three years.
Why is accessing more transponders such a big
deal for Indian DTH firms considering most
foreign satellite system operators claim there is
sufficient capacity available? To be sure, it’s
more of a regulatory challenge. The process of
identifying and securing the transponder
mandates the involvement of Isro and its
marketing arm Antrix.

All transponder demands are routed through
Antrix. How this works is that Antrix sources
international transponder capacity and sub-lets it
to Indian DTH operators through back-to-back
agreements. This delays the process and limits
the Indian operators’ ability to procure favourable
commercial terms through direct negotiations,
according to Smita Jha, leader of the media and
entertainment practice at PwC. (Interestingly,
Isro’s intervention is required only when DTH
operators need to get KU band transponders.
When broadcasters want to launch new channels
on C band transponders, they can talk directly to
foreign satellite operators.)

The other major issue troubling the industry is
that the contracts with foreign satellite suppliers
are short term. Antrix offers them three-year
deals. The original thinking behind the move was
to limit the term so that the foreign satellites
could be replaced by Indian satellites when they
were ready. This clause also puts significant
constraints on commercial negotiations with
transponder suppliers, most of whom are looking
for 10-15 year contracts. Foreign satellite
operators pass the cost of the uncertainty to
Indian DTH service providers, the PwC report

However, it recommended that the DTH providers
be allowed to directly secure incremental
capacity from existing satellite providers that
have been authorized to provide the service. The
report also pushes for longer-term contracts
between capacity suppliers and DTH providers.
The good news is that, speaking at the Casbaa
India Forum, J.S. Mathur, special secretary in the
information and broadcasting ministry, said:
“Scarcity of transponders is a major issue…
stakeholders should get together to see how we
can resolve the issue.”

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing and
advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at
pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun

Capacity crunch may affect DTH expansion - Livemint


Dream Shine
12 Jul 2015
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Dont worry bro.....there will be a soution for it


22 Jan 2016
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Apart from transponders issue ..the another thing which is makin dth industry to limit offerin is taxes.. findin difficult to provide maximum service to customers in subscription amounts ..
Dishtv's NSS6 has Max life of 15 yrs which almost 13.5 yrs completed ,merely 1 n half yr left..dishtv's all 3 sattelites NSS6, SES 8,Asiasat 5 r foreign ..


24 Mar 2015
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So will dishtv launch new sat


22 Jan 2016
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Currently,dishtv don't have a transponder issue as Asiasat 5 is only for HD channels..


Dream Pro
31 Jul 2011
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Dish TV will manage , I think so.
but 130 HD channels in future is tough job ahead for all DTH operators


Dream Legend
7 Oct 2013
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currently tata sky also don't have any issue as they are now having 24 tps out of that they are currently using 14 :)


Dream Legend
1 Jun 2013
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If number of tp shortage is 200 then it's not a big deal as this number can be achieved only by launching one satellite and good news is that ISRO is building such a huge satellite example is GSAT 11 which has more than 200 # 36 Mhz equivalent transponders :eek:hya



24 Jun 2014
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Rushil.D said:
currently tata sky also don't have any issue as they are now having 24 tps out of that they are currently using 14 :)
Rushil Bro what will happen when Insat-4a expire???? Is there any back up plan? 130 HD channels to come in near future.. Does Tata sky has any plan for that??


Dream Legend
24 May 2015
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Airtel will also be rocking and rolling from July onwards,no space cruch for them also in coming years
Space will never be long term problem for ADTV or any other DTH except Sun and RDTV,problem will only be increasing costs :angry
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