A Positive But Complex Situation In India
There is always a considerable diversity of opinion when it comes to the multiple markets that are encountered in the region. India, where the government still has tight restrictions on DTH licensing, content and the cable sector, is an excellent example. But where certain market restrictions apply, other business ventures are growing.
"There is a lack of clarity in India surrounding the roll-out of digital TV as the government has flip-flopped after mandating the use of conditional access technology on cable systems from its original deadline of last July," says Graham Kill, CEO of Netherlands-based Irdeto Access. "This uncertainty has delayed digital TV and conditional access implementation in metropolitan areas across India with one exception, and the cable industry is upset because major investments have already been made well in advance of the original deadline in anticipation of complying with the Conditional Access Bill."
Targeted content and partnerships with local broadcasters and electronics retailers in India have, however, proved to be a significant business advancement for Worldspace Corp. The company recently secured 15,000 initial paid subscribers to its India satellite service.
"India has been an ideal geographic area for us to expand our business because customers are wanting targeted content," says Noah Samara, chairman and CEO of Worldspace. The company is working directly with local broadcasters such as Radio Indigo and KL Radio within urban areas, including Bombay, Bangalore, New Delhi and Chennai.
Good Coordination Agreements Must Be In Place
Simply introducing a new satellite distribution technology or launching a new service option in Asia, however, provides no guarantee of success. The spirit of international cooperation is often tested in the process as well, especially when it comes to new satellite ventures.
Because the door is wide open to broadband in Asia, this situation requires careful scrutiny. Among other things, Intelsat has forged a partnership with Shin Satellite that uses Intelsat capacity today for IP data, and will continue to use it for back-up purposes after the launch of IPStar.
"If the business is there we would certainly look into providing a broadband platform in Asia. We are currently talking to potential service providers in the area and would develop a product that made sense for the market," says Erich Fischer, Intelsat's senior director of broadband and growth businesses.
According to Jackson, for newcomers breaking into the market has been difficult, and some have large ongoing problems. "As the orbit locations and the individual satellites fill up, the situation will get worse," Jackson says. "However, satellite customers are now realizing that not all satellites are the same and are starting to ask about interference and coordination before they lease capacity so we expect to see a differentiation on satellite pricing."