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India: Experts Say Potential for HD is Huge

The satellite market in India, the world's second-most populous nation, is rapidly becoming an MPEG-4-based realm with HD potentially geared to come on quickly, according to a panel of experts familiar with the region.

"Most of the [Indian] platforms are now on, or moving towards, MPEG 4," said Roger Bolton, a compression specialist at Tandberg Television. "When they were buying their technology, they were insistent on having HDTV as part of the specification." At a roundtable discussion sponsored in London by Rapid TV News, Bolton said securing and distributing set-top boxes are a major cost, yet, "If they're using a customer-purchase model, then this makes life a little easier. But from the transmission point of view, they are certainly looking to future-proof their systems."

He said there are about 27,000 cable operators in India (population 1.1 billion)—including a lot of tiny ones—nearly all of which must first be digitized before any HD starts going up in a serious way. "In other words, there are huge opportunities there," Bolton said.