New Delhi, Jul 16: Bharti Enterprises’ DTH arm, Airtel Digital TV today launched domestically manufactured set-top-boxes (STBs) to support the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, saying that in due course it will end dependence on imports. “We are proud to partner with the government’s Make in India initiative and launch indigenous set-top-boxes made in the country. With this, we aim to reduce our imports and thus help drive employment and growth within the country,” Bharti Airtel CEO for DTH/Media, Shashi Arora said in a statement. The STBs will be available in high definition (HD) to begin with and soon all Airtel Digital TV’s STBs will be manufactured in India. (read: Airtel likely to launch 4G in North East in 2-3 months)

“In the long-run, cost synergies will further help us extend more benefits to our customers,” Arora said. The launch also provides the much needed impetus to build an ecosystem that will drive indigenous manufacturing of DTH STBs empowered with production capabilities as well as technical expertise within India, the statement said. The process of cable digitisation is underway in a phased manner, which is fuelling demand for STBs. The switch-over from analog system to digital is being done in four phases. Phase 3 would complete by the end of this year while the last phase by next year.

Foreign STB makers almost wiped out domestic players during phase 1 and phase 2 of cable TV digitalisation with around 95 per cent market share. “It is great that Airtel Digital TV is aligning itself with our Make in India vision as this will certainly pedal the fast gaining momentum of the initiative further. We wish the company the very best as they step ahead towards transforming the DTH industry,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore said.

The STBs are conceptualized and designed in India and will be manufactured by Hero Electronix in Pune. Hero Electronix arm MyBox Tech and semi-conductor firm ST Microelectronics have contributed in the production of STBs. The indigenous Airtel Digital TV HD plus set-top box will offer various features including full HD support, MPEG-4 video with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, 5 times more picture clarity, unlimited recording via USB-drive and usb-based Wi-Fi connectivity for on-demand, anytime TV and interactive gaming, the statement said. As per industry estimates, the cable digitisation programme has created huge demand for STBs and it is likely to reach 75 million units by 2016-17.