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Shifting house? You may have to buy a set-top box

Bangalore:May 4, 2013 DH News Service 9:32 IST

Varying prices, lack of receipts are common complaints

The confusion over set-top boxes continues with cable operators now claiming that people who plan to shift their residences may have to purchase another set-top box, if they move to an area with a different service provider.

At present, there are six major service providers like Hathway, MSV, Atria Cables, In Cables, Utelecom and Siti. There are also several smaller players in the market. Each of these service providers caters to local cable operators (LCOs) in specified areas.

These service providers are the ones procuring the set-top boxes and encrypting them for use. Thus, these boxes are rendered useless for people subscribing to another service provider.

Patrick Raju, president of the Karnataka Cable Operators’ Association (KOEA), said, “This is why we requested the government to have universal set-top boxes, but our pleas were rejected.”

Meanwhile, variations in the rates of set-top boxes continue with people in different areas being charged different amounts. While those in Shantinagar reported paying Rs 1,300, people in HSR Layout said they were paying Rs 1,450. In Malleswaram, the prevailing rate is Rs 1,700, while the price in Hebbal is Rs 1,600.

Local operators blamed


Raju chose to lay the blame on local operators. “The nodal officer had fixed a price at Rs 1,200 per box. The varying prices are due to corruption among the cal cable operators. People in charge of fitting the systems are seeking additional ‘service charges’ of about Rs 200,” he said.

However, nodal officer Vasanthi Amar denied the statement, saying she was merely a witness at the meeting, where the price of Rs 1,200 per box was fixed by the service providers and the LCOs.

Raju defended the cable operators for not giving receipts, saying, “The service providers themselves have not provided us the bills. Where do we get them from?”

However, cable operators offer their own explanations for the variation in prices.

A cable operator in Hebbal, who is selling set-top boxes for Rs 1,600, said, “The set-top boxes I am supplying come from Vietnam, which are more durable and have a one-year guarantee.

“Other vendors have been selling boxes from China which are non-repairable and have no warranty. Different products have different prices. I’m not cheating anybody and this is in the interest of my customers.”

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