Tata Sky, the Indian DTH operator with the highest amount of spectrum and channels, will add five more HD channels to take the total high-definition offerings on the platform to 86.
The new channels being added tomorrow are DSports, MTV HD+, Surya (Malayalam), Udaya (Kannada) and Gemini Movies (Telugu).
With 86 HD channels, the operator has further solidified its position as the largest provider of high-definition content in India.
In comparison, most DTH operators provide only 45-65 HD channels, while cable players provide between 30-50 such channels.
However, due to the paucity of high-definition content, Tata Sky has been forced to offer so-called ‘plus 1’ channels, which are essentially one-hour delayed feed of existing offerings.
As such, it provides +1 services for ‘Star Gold’, ‘Zee Cinema’ and so on.
Tata Sky has found itself in a happy position of being faced with a glut of spectrum after one of ISRO’s satellites — INSAT-4A — failed to ‘die’ on time.
Tata Sky was using 432 MHz of spectrum on INSAT-4A to deliver content to the Indian subcontinent and was behind players like Videocon D2h, which has 540 MHz, and Dish TV, which had 648 MHz.
INSAT-4A was supposed to reach ‘end of life’ in 2017, and to replace it, ISRO sent GSAT-10 to the same orbital location with 432 MHz of capacity.
As luck would have it, both satellites are working simultaneously. However, because the older satellite can die any time, ISRO cannot sell the capacity on its new satellite to a new player. For the same reason, it cannot sell its capacity on the older satellite either, to any new player.
As a result, Tata Sky has been permitted to use both satellites at the same time, and now has about 828 MHz of spectrum at its disposal.
This is almost double of what most operators in India have.
The only serious competitor is Dish TV, which has recently increased its capacity to 828 MHz. However, since Dish uses the older and less-efficient MPEG-2 standard, 828 MHz is equivalent to around 600 MHz only.
Airtel Digital too has increased its spectrum recently to 396 MHz to 504 MHz and can take it even higher, depending on its need.