Airtel repatriates STB production to India; begins manufacturing with Skyworth in Noida, Telecom News, ET Telecom


New Delhi: Direct-to-Home Broadcasting (DTH) arm of Bharti Airtel plans to stop imports of high-definition set-top boxes (STBs) by the end of this year, after starting domestic manufacturing of the devices in Noida in partnership with Skyworth Electronics.

Airtel Digital TV has stopped issuing new import orders for set-top boxes, but will continue to receive shipments under existing orders, which will end by December. So, by the end of 2021, it will fully switch to India-made set-top boxes, including the high-end Airtel Xstream 4K Android TV Box. The Airtel Xstream Android 4K TV box allows customers to access linear and OTT TV content.

“We are very satisfied with the level of quality of the products our partners have provided,” Sunil Taldar, CEO – DTH, Bharti Airtel told ET.

The company previously manufactured dumb set-top boxes in Pune (Ranjangaon) through MyBox Tech, a subsidiary of Hero Electronix, and ST Microelectronics. However, it stopped production in India and started importing devices from countries like Vietnam and Thailand to ensure better product quality. These countries had better capabilities than India.

“This is a major milestone in Airtel Digital TV’s growth journey and a sign of the rapid growth of India’s manufacturing capabilities. The supply chain disruptions induced by Covid-19 have further accelerated our efforts to make our supply chain more dependent on India, ”said Taldar.

The company has already started supplying locally made devices to its customers, he said.

Airtel Digital TV rival Tata Sky has also started manufacturing set-top boxes in India in partnership with Technicolor Connected Home and Flextronics.

As part of the agreement, Tejas will supply, install and support its Optical Transmission Network (OTN) to extend Airtel’s optical network to the edge, supporting 5G backhaul, B2B services and applications. in a large band.

The move to local manufacturing is in line with the strategy of the telecommunications operator led by Sunil Mittal of sourcing locally for all telecommunications equipment, networks and STB devices. Bharti Enterprises Ltd and the Noida-based contractor Dixon Technologies India recently signed a pact to form a joint venture. to manufacture telecommunications and network products such as modems, routers, set-top boxes and Internet of Things (IoT) devices for the telecommunications industry. Dixon Technologies India has filed the necessary applications with the Ministry of Communications to avail the benefits of the government incentive program linked to the production of Rs 12,195 crore.

Bharti Airtel has also asked its partners Nokia and Ericsson to supply only locally produced 4G and 5G equipment. For 5G, the phone company is currently working with Tata Consultancy Services. The two companies will begin testing the locally developed 5G stack early next year and deploy locally made equipment, Bharti Airtel said.

Airtel Digital TV, which had 18 million customers at the end of June, offers standard and high definition (HD) television services with 667 channels including 86 HD channels, 60 internal services, six international channels and four interactive services including EduTech.

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