DAS deadline for Phase III and IV may get extended to December 2015 and December 2016 respectively. Decision of the Ministry may be announced shortly if some internal Ministry sources are to be believed.
Although no statement has come out from the Ministry, one industry portal has also attributed the news to conversation with Bimal Julka the I&B Secretary.
For the last few months, since the COFI all India meet of June 2014 was held in New Delhi, a lot of awareness has been created amongst the last mile Cable Operators. They have been approaching the courts against regulations which they allege, have been very unfair to them and impinge on their fundamental rights of doing a business to make a living.
Many state associations of cable operators including COFI have also met the new I&B Minister, Sh. Prakash Javadekar, personally submitting him their memorandum stating their grievances. Minister himself had shown lot of concern on lack of indigenous manufacture of STBs and rising pay channel subscription that he wanted to be reduced as transparency has come in as a result of digitisation. There is also a concern of very few independent MSOs getting the DAS MSO Registration from the Ministry. Out of 6000 MSOs only about 170 are registered for DAS services in all the phases.
Whatever may be the reasons for the slow progress of DAS in all the phases, government does not want the implementation be done only on paper as was announced in the case of Phase I & II, where even after two years, very little has been achieved except seeding of STBs. Consumers are still wondering why a government want them to adopt a technology that they neither desire nor can afford.
Extension of DAS will definitely help the LCOs very much. According to Mr Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators Federation of India, neither the Cable Operators nor the public is actually aware of what to expect from mandatory digitisation. Till date, they thought the government regulations will force large MSOs to invest in infrastructure and integrate their networks making them a permanent part of the national broaband infrastructure. But, unfortunately the process has taken the industry back by twenty years when battles of supremacy and hostile takeovers were rampant. “This extension will give an opportunity to the LCOs and Independent operators to understand the regulations and install their own headends to be owners of their business rather than become a slave,” she asserted.