“In Bangladesh we are aiming for 1.5 million subscribers in five years, However, this is a pessimistic figure, we think the potential is much greater,” said Sergey Dolgopolskiy, PR Director, foreign projects department, GS Group.
Also on the cards is Pakistan, where the company hopes to attract 1.1 million digital DTH subscribers in the next five years.
Dolgopolskiy said the company is also pursuing projects in sub-Saharan Africa, in South East Asia, including an OTT project in Indonesia, and DTH in Myanmar. In Latin America, GS is looking at a DTH venture in Brazil and cable in Spanish-speaking countries.
In all these countries, the company is following its policy of working together with a strong local partner.
The GS Group is bringing direct investments, technological partnerships, CAS, middleware, and, optional, proprietary STB production. “We also take care of obtaining distribution rights with international channels, we deliver the head-end equipment and knowledge of the pay TV business.”
The local partner also invests, takes care of the licence and contributes local expertise and can take care of the distribution.
In Bangladesh the GS group will take 45% of what will be the first national DTH operator in the country using advanced technologies. The local partner is the Beximco industrial group.
The offer will comprise105 channels, including Bengali, Russian, ad international channels as well as HD channels and value added services. The Pakistani bouquet will consist of 125 Pakistani, Russian and international channels.
In Pakistan the licence issue needs to be resolved before the venture can go ahead, “there is a big cable lobby, but we will overcome the issues – it is one of the most promising markets in the world. Generally speaking, it is not difficult to launch the signal, but you have to overcome legal and regulatory issues, which takes time.”
Launching a legal digital satellite DTH service in a country like Bangladesh has its unique challenges, explained project manager Vladimir Belyaev. There already is a lot of cable television available, but most – if not all – is illegal tapping into Indian TV signals. “The subscription money is collected by people going from door to door.”
In order to set up a payment system, the new venture will need to explore new ways of collecting the monthly subscription fee – using mobile payments, online services, and ATMs.
Another is issue is that most of the TV sets in Bangladesh are still CTRs – and a lot of those are still black & white sets.