Tata Play set to expand bandwidth with exclusive capacity on GSAT-24

The increased capacity will allow Tata Play to offer more channels and services and better picture quality, MD and CEO Harit Nagpal said
The increased capacity will allow Tata Play to offer more channels and services and better picture quality, MD and CEO Harit Nagpal said


  • GSAT-24 was launched by NewSpace India Ltd as its first ‘demand-driven’ communication satellite mission after the space-sector reforms, leasing the entire capacity on board to the DTH service provider

MUMBAI: Direct-to-home (DTH) company Tata Play (formerly Tata Sky) is set to expand its bandwidth capacity by 50% by adding 24 new Ku-band transponders on the communication satellite GSAT-24. The increased capacity will allow it to offer more channels and services and better picture quality, MD and CEO Harit Nagpal told Mint.

The satellite was launched by NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL) in June last year, to cater specifically to Tata Play's DTH needs. The move was in alignment with the government's ‘Make in India’ vision, showcasing India's prowess in indigenous satellite technology as part of its space reforms. NSIL, incorporated in March 2019, was mandated to undertake operational satellite missions on a ‘demand-driven’ model, in which it has the responsibility to build, launch, own and operate satellites, and provide services to its customers.

“With the additional capacity, we'll be able to carry almost every channel that exists in the country. Currently, the ministry has certified about 900 channels for transmission. We carry the most in the country, which is in the region of 600. Secondly, we will be able to provide more bandwidth per channel. So the quality of the picture, the quality of the sound and the stability of the picture will get even better," said Nagpal.

While he refused to share the cost, Nagpal said, “You have to put your money where your mouth is. We believe that television is here to stay. We believe that there are approximately 100 million homes which are yet to buy their first TV set and eventually they will buy it at some stage. We have been investing in technology all these years, we have been investing in service, and we will continue to do that."

Tata Play currently has 24 transponders, of which 12 will be decommissioned in about three months as they are nearing the end of their life cycles. Effectively, its total transponder capacity will increase from 24 at present to 36.

With the additional capacity, Tata Play plans to go deeper into India by offering more regional channels, including rural ones. Nagpal said the company operates across all pin codes in India, and that as one goes deeper, consumers want more content in their own language.

The satellite has been in place and Tata Play has been conducting technical testing. The company also had to install a large antenna that could beam signals 36,000 kilometres up. It has received government permissions and will officially start using the new satellite on Monday.

Nagpal said that with the increased capacity, Tata Play will not need more transponders in the foreseeable future. “We will be covered for a very long time, and I don’t see a requirement for another expansion. In fact it may take about a year to even fill this up," he added.

Built at a cost of around 400 crore, GSAT-24 is a 4,180-kg satellite with pan-India coverage for DTH needs. It was launched on 22 June, 2022 on the Ariane 5 rocket, operated by the French company Arianespace, from Kourou in French Guiana (South America).

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