Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom and cable company, has placed an order of around 5 lakh advanced set-top-boxes with Dixon Technologies, including those for deployment on Hathway and Den’s cable networks.
Unlike the IPTV-enabled set-top-boxes being rolled out as part of the Jio Fiber network, many of these STBs sourced from Dixon are not meant for consuming internet content.
However, they will come with two tuners. A tuner is the part of the set-top-box that is responsible for isolating and capturing a particular channel from all the various channels that are present in the signal, and supplying it for further processing.
Dual tuner STBs are used for supporting DVR (digital video recording) capabilities.
Without dual tuners, a person cannot watch a different program when another is being recorded. In other words, he can only record the channel that he is currently watching.
With dual tuners, he can continue to use the set-top-box normally, while also recording a program on a particular channel.
While Reliance Jio’s exact purpose in ordering dual-tuner set-top-boxes is not known, it is believed that it may be an attempt to add video-on-demand features in areas where broadband internet infrastructure is not available.
The regular, internet-enabled Jio Fiber box uses a high-speed fiber connection to provide advanced features such as video-on-demand, catch-up TV and apps.
However, only around 1 million, or about 5%, of the wired connections given by Jio at present are under the Jio Fiber banner. The rest are under the banner of Den and Hathway cable, and in both these cases, the overwhelming majority are simple digital cable TV connections.
Using a dual-tuner set-top-box, Hathway and Den will be able to offer quasi-video-on-demand services, as well as a full fledged DVR capability.
DTH operator Dish TV is the only other big operator that has experimented with a similar service, even though Airtel Digital too launched dual-tuner boxes for its DVR setups.
Dish TV launched a video-on-demand service called DishFlix five years ago that works on a similar principle.
Dish TV would dedicate one or more channels for VoD content. The box would use one tuner to download and store these programs automatically.
When the user switches on his set-top-box, he would find a list of movies, videos and other downloaded programs that could be viewed by him at any time.
The videos would be deleted from the box after a month.
Jio is also reported to be sourcing components for its hybrid cable TV-cum-IPTV set-top-box from Dixon Technologies.
The boxes will be manufactured at Dixon Technologies’ mobile manufacturing plants. The mobile plants had seen excess capacity due to a slow down in smartphone sales, especially at Dixon’s main client Xiaomi.
The total value of Jio’s initial order with Dixon is around Rs 50 cr.