GTPL Hathway, one of India’s largest cable feed provider and last-mile operator, said its much-delayed Android set-top-box originally scheduled be launched a year ago, is in the final stages of production and expected to reach the company by end of this month.
It was in mid last year that the company announced that its Android box launch had fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic that struck China in Jan-Mar of 2020 and that it would be introduced around September or October of last year.
Nearly a year later, the box is yet to be commercially launched as production got delayed.
Anirudhsinh Jadeja, the founder and MD of GTPL Hathway, has now told investors that the production of these boxes has since recovered and they are now ready with the manufacturer.
“Now, as we are talking, the boxes are ready. We are expecting it to come to us by the end of April,” he said.
Jadeja also said the entire back-end and infrastructure for the service has been completed, and the company was waiting for the boxes to arrive. “We are ready with all our plans..and as the box comes, we will launch it very quickly,” he promised.
It has been an agonizing wait for millions of customers of GTPL Hathway as a smart set-top-box could save them from the bother of upgrading to a smart TV and from having to use multiple remote controllers to watch streaming content as well as linear TV.
It is also keenly awaited by the local cable operator partners of GTPL as they expect that these boxes will help them withstand competition from the likes of Jio, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital and others who provide similar VoD-enabled boxes.
GTPL now expects the box to be available with local cable operator starting in May and June.
Customers are increasingly turning towards hybrid boxes or even pure Android boxes as these offer the convenience of on-demand viewing. Some boxes even come with built-in mics and cameras and can even be used for making video calls on TV.
The exact configuration, and the pricing, of the new box has not been revealed yet, as the company has kept it a secret for competitive reasons.
Besides launching the set-top box, GTPL will also start a major expansion of its broadband services by opening its broadband service to partnerships by local cable operators. At present, nearly all of GTPL’s broadband connections are given on the company’s own last mile network.
However, this will change over the next two months as it starts allowing its LCO partners to resell not just its cable feed, but also internet connectivity.