Live Updates: PEMRA Starts Bidding for DTH Auction [LIVE Updates]
The regular readers of ProPakistani must have read this news that DTH auction in Pakistan has been postponed yet again. And this is not the first time it has hit snag; we have been “trying” to launch DTH in Pakistan since 2003.
What a disappointment!
It is not worth to write about the history of DTH launch and bureaucratic red tape but it’s very important to know why, when and how we should get Direct-To-Home TV service in Pakistan.
Let’s get to know DTH before we start. It is standard abbreviation of Direct-To-Home television service which works by linking TV transmission from station to the viewer’s set top box via satellite.
Majority of Pakistanis rely on outdated analogue cable TV and then we have illegal Indian DTH followed by DWN and PTCL Smart TV
DTH is a small dish antenna with a set top box but it is not free. The subscriber has to pay some monthly charges for the service. You get more TV channels, better sound and picture quality and fewer breakdowns which is common in traditional cable TV.
Why do we need a DTH when we already have cable TV service available everywhere?
We got Cable TV service in late 1990s in few major cities. Now, in 2016, it’s available in most parts of the country, even in rural areas. New connection and monthly charges are affordable but the quality and reliability of cable TV service are not good. Most common problems in cable TV in Pakistan are:
- Frequent breakdowns: Very few cable networks use good wires and connectors. So the blackout screens or poor reception is very often.
- Keep changing channels’ positions: Everyone likes to keep his/her favorite channels on 0-9 numbers to access it by pressing a single button. But the cable operators keep changing the numbers, making it difficult to tune on to your favorite channel.
- Doesn’t work in load shedding: You still can’t watch TV during power-cuts even if you have a UPS system (inverter backup) installed because cable TV services (in most of the areas) don’t work during load shedding.
- No High Definition quality: The best video resolution you can get on most of the cable operators’ network is 480p or less. Even low cost TV sets supports 720p which means you’ll experience very poor video on bigger screens.
- Fewer Channels: A handful cable TV providers offer more than 150 channels. I live in Rawalpindi and get only 68 channels, just 20-25 channels have acceptable video quality. And some good international channels like AXN, Toonami, DW, Discovery and CCTV Documentary 9 are not available in my area.
Those who own a bigger TV want better quality video which analogue cable TV can’t deliver. So they opt for illegal Indian DTH which is not difficult to buy and costs around 7000-12000 Rupees to install and monthly charges of Dish TV starts from 850 Rupees. Pakistan has become the largest black-market of illegal Indian DTH TV sets.
Nearly 5 million Pakistanis use Indian DTH services and a huge sum of more than US $ 300 million is going to India every year. You may find it interesting to learn that neither PEMRA in Pakistan nor TRAI in India allows DTH smuggling and operation but the operators are happy because they are earning big money through this business. PEMRA has warned the smugglers to stop illegal DTH business. But i think it’s not going to stop because there’s a big demand of HD TV service in market.
That’s why we need to launch our own DTH to curb illegal Indian DTH business.
When should we get DTH? Is it the right time to get one?
Now one may ask, is it the right time for Pakistan to get DTH?
The answer is, absolutely yes!
We need to launch our own Direct-To-Home TV service right now to give consumers better TV viewing experience, create job opportunities, to earn more revenue and to stop illegal Indian business.
Nearly 5 million Pakistanis use Indian DTH services and a huge sum of more than US $ 300 million is going to India every year.
Our rival neighbor India launched DTH in 2004, it’s been 12 years and now they have 7 different operators providing services. Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have also launched DTH leaving Pakistan the only country in the subcontinent without this service. Therefore, PEMRA should take this matter seriously and launch it as soon as possible.
How should DTH work in Pakistan?
If the auction process goes well, this time we are hopeful to see the very first Pakistani DTH providing service from early 2017.
But how should it work in Pakistan and how much would it cost to get an HD TV service? Here’re few things to consider and suggestions to make it more successful.
Where India has 7 DTH operators working, I suggest Pakistan should get minimum 3 licenses to break monopoly in this industry. There’s a big potential in the country but Pakistani DTH operators are also going to face some challenges.
The first challenge is to offer good incentive and attractive packages to switch 5 million Indian DTH users to new local DTH service. The other challenge is to make this facility affordable for a common man in Pakistan.
Everyone is curious to know how much it would cost to get a DTH in Pakistan. You might be surprised to know that DTH is very affordable.
You can check the price of new connection and monthly charges of DTH service in neighbor countries. But some market analysts believe that it won’t be any cheap in Pakistan.
We don’t have any official and legal DTH available at the moment and we have following options to watch satellite TV channels:
Majority of Pakistanis rely on outdated analogue cable TV and then we have illegal Indian DTH followed by DWN and PTCL Smart TV.
Digital Wireless Network (DWN or Sun TV) may look the best option but the problem is it isn’t a DTH but a DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) with limited coverage in Islamabad, Lahore & Karachi only.
Pakistani DTH operators who want to capture market should offer affordable new connection, monthly charges and good customer service support. If someone brings a DTH service with monthly charges exceeding 600-700 Rupees, it is going to crash and burn in no time.
The operator can introduce different packages like basic pack with less than 100 channels at a price of 350 Rupees per month, reasonable value pack at 500-700 Rupees and they may charge more than 1000 Rupees per month for the best package with maximum HD channels and premium services.
Where India has 7 DTH operators working; Pakistan should get minimum 3 licenses to break monopoly in this industry
And last but not least is the quality and quantity of channels. The operator must offer all legal TV channels in Pakistan. Most of the analogue cable TV operators are not airing infotainment channels like National Geographic, Discovery, DW and Animal Planet. Their excuse these channels have been banned by PEMRA. It might be true for the National Geographic Channel but Discovery, DW, Animal Planet and AXN are legally allowed to be aired in Pakistan by PEMRA because they have landing rights.
Now talking about the quality of service, almost every DTH service delivers good quality during clear sunny days but some of them struggle in foggy, rainy and cloudy days. So the consumer is not going to be satisfied if he can’t watch TV during rainy days.
After we start affordable DTH service with best quality and customer care support, I’m pretty sure that illegal Indian DTH would die its own death. We will get better TV viewing experience, more people will get better jobs and the government will earn more revenue by introducing Pakistan’s own DTH service.
All I can say it would be a win-win situation for everyone here!