India needs 75 million STBs for Phases III and IV of the cable TV digitisation programme

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Government urges indigenous STB manufacturers to grab this golden opportunity

Srabani Sen

Tuesday, April 08, 2014: As Phases III and IV of the digitisation of cable TV networks in India near completion (by September 30 and December 31, 2013, respectively), about 75 million set top boxes (STBs) will be required to complete the task, said Supriya Sahu, joint secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. This was at a national seminar on STBs organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in New Delhi on July 11.

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Cable TV networks in India have been made mandatory, which means that TV signals will be received only through STBs. Phases I and II of the digitisation of cable networks have been already completed, which involved digitising 16 million cable TVs in 38 cities.

Manufacturers shouldn’t miss the bus

Urging the STB manufacturers to grab this golden opportunity and start manufacturing, Supriya Sahu requested them to look at lower profit margins as manufacturing STBs in India is still a costly affair since a local electronics ecosystem does not exist. She mentioned that globally, too, many countries have a roadmap to go digital in the next three to five years, and hence the demand for STBs globally would translate to a market worth about US$ 12 billion. “Indian STB manufacturers should not miss this opportunity,” she added.

However, Keith Cochran, vice president, Digital Home Sector, Jabil Circuits Inc, stated that the Indian government should relook at the tax policy structure if it wants to attract investments in STB manufacturing. “Competing countries are offering both discretionary and statutory incentives to attract long term investment. Apart from tax incentives, the Indian government must also offer special incentives for supply chain manufacturers, and extend incentives to R&D and design activities to promote indigenous STB manufacturing,” he said.

Efforts to boost manufacturing

Realising the huge potential for indigenous STB manufacturing, the Core Advisory Group for Research and Development (R&D) in Electronics Hardware (CAREL), the empowered group that reports to the principal scientific adviser to the Government of India, has identified STBs as one of the six products to be designed, developed and manufactured indigenously.

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Government of India, has also taken serious steps to promote indigenous manufacturing of STBs. Recently, it held a meeting of stakeholders in the STB sector to not only facilitate the design, development and manufacture of domestic STBs but also to set standards for these devices.

The 2013 Budget announcement to increase the import duty on STBs from 5 per cent to 10 per cent will also boost STB manufacturing in India. STBs are now being covered under the Special Focus Product Scheme of the Foreign Trade Policy as well.

According to a CAREL report, in the financial year 2011-12, domestic production catered to roughly only 30 per cent of the total of 12 million STBs installed. The imported components in these STBs amounted to around 55 per cent of total components used.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 sourcing magazine

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