March 06, 2007

A Conspiracy Called Tata Sky

India's latest entrant in direct-to-home TV has utter disregard for your rights and uses discrete means to take control over them (Last updated on Jun-06, 2008)

Last Friday I bought a Tata Sky set-top box. Today, I returned it to get a complete refund. This is my story of why I did that and what I learned in the process. This isn't a rant, hopefully a bit of education for current and future Tata Sky owners and perhaps even a precursor to change.

I chose Tata Sky over Dish TV because the reviews indicated they have a superior user experience. This seems to be true, as far as interacting with the TV is concerned. Their menus are intuitive and it was easy to grasp all their features. This is true about their website as well, which although ridden with flash, is easier to use compared to Dish.

So why did I still chose to go for a refund? Because of the fundamentally unfair and cleverly restrictive ways in which everything in the service is designed. Tata Sky is great for anyone who only cares about watching TV. But if you refuse to be treated as an idiot who cannot see right from worng and refuse to have your rights trampled, Tata Sky is not for you.

I have three main issues with their service. But first, here's a bit of an introduction, how Tata Sky DTH works:




Issue #1 Hardware Ownership: what am I paying for?

  • You don't own the dish, Tata Sky does
That's correct. They will never advertise this, nor will the dealer tell you about it when you make the purchase. The dish belongs to Tata Sky, if you deactivate they take back the dish and the digicard.
  • You do own the Set-Top-Box (STB) but it's worthless without the dish
The purhcase you make is only for the set-top box. You will get a receipt for the set-top box and the renewal card. The Tata Sky engineer will bring the dish with him at the time of the installation. The dish transmits the signal from the satellite to the set-top box, also called satellite receiver, or in Tata Sky's case - the digicomp. In UK, it's called the digibox. The set-top box by itself is of no use without the dish.
  • In fact, if you deactivate tomorrow, they may take away both the dish AND the set-top box
This was the most shocking bit of information in the contract that Tata Sky wanted me to sign at the time of installation. Clause 11.3 of the contract explicitly states that Tata Sky can remove all the "hardware" from my place at the time of deactivation of service.  It doesn't define what hardware is or makes any distinction between dish and digicomp.

If you are a Tata Sky customer and you wish to stop the service tomorrow, by signing that contract, you have permitted them to take away the set-top box for which you paid in full. Don't believe me? Call up customer support and ask them to read out clause #11.3.


Issue #2 User Privacy: what about my rights?

  • They store all your usage information - how you watch your TV, what you watch, for how long and when
The contract states that Tata Sky may store every aspect of how you use their service. This allows them to create your detailed profile which will include your TV watching habits, how you order their premium services and so on. They already have all your contact information. Can you see where it's going?
  • They can profit from that information by selling it to third parties (read advertisers)
That's correct. By signing the contract you have agreed to let them use that information in any way they choose including making good money from it by selling it to "third parties". You, of course, get no share in this revenue stream. You get something else.
  • Be prepared to receive lots of very targeted ads (read spam)
This is the obvious implication of giving up your rights. Tata Sky knows which shows you've set as your favorites, they know what kind of movies you like, the channels you watch or don't watch, how many times you've ordered movies in the last three months. With this wealth of information, advertisers can draw up a pretty good picture of you so don't be surprised to get mailers online or offline that seem to be designed just for you.


Issue #3 Restrictive trade practices: locked away till eternity

  • You shall remain locked to receive Tata Sky forever, no Dish TV or another DTH service for you
If you buy a cell phone you expect it to work with any SIM card. Except when you get the phone for a discount, in which case, you can only use it with one particular SIM. You'd think that the same would be true for DTH, but no. With Tata Sky or Dish TV for that matter, even after paying for the equipment in full, you are not allowed to access the other's services. As a Tata Sky customer you are forever locked to receive only their services. This is clearly a restrictive trade practice.

TRAI, the regulatory authority that monitors DTH in India, is apparently working on the interoperability issue. But so far the players can behave the way they wish until the rules come into being. However, even if they allow inter-connection, it will be of little use with Tata Sky as you will lose the dish if you deactivate and perhaps even the set-top box.
  • You shall remain devoid of even Free-To-Air channels if you don't renew subscription on time
Free-to-Air channels are supposed to be, well, Free-to-Air. Not so with Tata Sky. If you don't renew the subscription on the due date, by 12 midnight, all your channels will be inaccessible including FTA.
  • You shall remain locked to the direction in which the dish is positioned
I called up customer support to ask whether one can somehow receive FTA channels broadcasted by other countries. Turns out, I'm not allowed to move the dish and in fact, it is not movable in the first place since it needs to be pointed at a very specific angle and has no tolerence for error.
  • You shall remain locked to the settings of the set-top-box
The user interface of Tata Sky does not permit one to setup alternative settings. There are no explicit options to change settings although a hidden menu springs up if you press the right combination of buttons. (see below for more)
  • You shall remain locked to the amount you carry in renewal voucher
Even the prepaid renewal voucher of Tata Sky is designed to get the most out of you. It only comes in the denomination of Rs 550 - which is more than what you need for a month's subscription (Rs 300) but not enough for two month (Rs 600). So at any given time you have Rs 250 always locked up in the voucher whether you want it or not. Perfect for Tata Sky because they want you to pay for their premium services. Not for someone who has no intention of paying for those services.

Not coincidentally, the renewal voucher is the only way to make payment with Tata Sky while Dish TV allows you to pay using several modes of payment.


To sum up all the above, buying Tata Sky digicomp and services was like buying a car which I cannot run on any fuel except the one supplied by the car maker. I must keep buying the fuel from them because if I stop, they can take away my car for which I paid in full!

In US or UK, there's no contract when you sign up for a satellite TV service. The contract only comes in when you get the equipment for free. It's only in India that we are made to sign on these ridiculous terms. What surprised me most in this episode is the utter ignorance about the terms of the contract within Tata Sky itself. The engineer who came for installation said my signature is needed as an authorisation for installation. His team leader I spoke with had no information about the terms. Two senior people in the organisation that the dealer made me speak to prior to refund, also proffered ignorance about these terms and had no convincing answer.


Other things you perhaps didn't know about Tata Sky
  • The reception is extremely poor or unavailable during rains. This however, is true about every satellite TV service in the world. Tata Sky makes no mention of it on their website.
  • Their toll-free number only works with MTNL / BSNL lines. If you're an Airtel subscriber, you'll have to call an STD number to get customer support. Knowing how long these calls take, the support will end up costing you quite a bit. (You can't go out and call from another phone because you might need to sit next to the TV if they tell you to change some settings)
  • In North Delhi, there have been reports that NDPL, also a Tata company, is using force to remove cable connections from NDPL electricity poles causing disruption in the cable infrastructure and forcing cable TV subscribers in 800,000 homes to upgrade to Tata Sky.
  • The set-top box that Tata Sky provides has a hidden port to accept PC card but it's been rendered useless since there's no software interface to use it. It's hidden behind a small plate held by two screws at the back.
  • They charge you Rs. 1000 when you change a house.
  • They will never tell you this but you can watch TV in more than one room with a single set-top box though you'll only be able to watch the same channel on all TVs.
  • There is a hidden settings menu in their interface for the technically inclined. Go to Organiser > System Settings > press 0, 1 and <select> button in quick succession. You'll get to DNB settings and other options.
  • The Tata Sky set-top box is from Thomson, their remote identical to those you get with SkyTV in UK and the software is from Open TV, the firm that sells software to Sky TV (apparently, it's from NDS). Apparently, no one has been able to hack Sky TV (at least not publicly) to use the service without paying subscription fees.

What can you do to protest?
  • Do not purchase their service. If you must, then refuse to sign the contract and demand they respect your rights.
  • Flood their customer care centre asking them questions about the three issues: ownership, privacy and restrictions.
  • Tell others to avoid Tata Sky. At least until they revise their terms and change restrictive policies. Another thing to remember is that there are other DTH players like Reliance, Airtel and new technologies such as IPTV that are on the horizon.


UPDATE, Mar-7: It turns out, 1-860-425-6633 is NOT a toll-free number either (though one certainly gets the impression). Another fact I forgot to add first time is that the 1-year guarantee does not cover every part of the equipment and only selected parts. Now someone in comments mentions that there are hidden annual maintenance charges of Rs.500 after the guarantee period and that you can land in serious trouble if you do not pay that.

UPDATE, Mar-7 (2): An anonymous user writing in comments below, made a couple of clarifications on Tata Sky's behalf. One - they can only take away "Tata Sky Hardware" (the dish) not the set-top box which is the consumer's property. As I replied below, this doesn't make any difference because the set-top box is useless without the dish. The dish should be the buyer's property and they should be allowed to receive any service they desire. The fact that Tata Sky doesn't allow this and that non-ownership of dish isn't made explicit prior to the purchase is is clearly a restrictive and unfair trade practice created solely to prevent competition.

Second, apparently, Tata Sky recently changed the clause about monitoring usage and now it's an opt-in feature. Why would anyone opt in to avail this is beyond me. Since it's the Tata Sky engineer who fills-in the contract form, how can the user even learn that such an option exists or ensure that it's not ticked after his signature? I certainly wasn't told about this during my installation. Clearly, the idea of the contract has to go. If a provider wants me to sign up and stay with them for a stipulated period, they should provide all the equipment for free.

By the way, this is now officially the most popular post on this blog. Thanks for all the encouragement, please tell others about this post and link to it from your blogs.

UPDATE, Mar-13: I received a comment elsewhere from an existing Tata Sky user that essentially said: "It isn't as bad as you're making it out to be - look, its working fine." I want to respond to this because I think many Tata Sky users might be feeling this way after reading my review.

I agreed early on in my review that the user experience - quality of broadcast and interaction with the features, is indeed superior. However, there's more to a product or service than the immediate user experience. My review of Tata Sky is more about the way the plan is structured and how it hijacks consumer rights.

There are certain assumptions that constitute what I'd call a "fair purchase" of a product or service. I assume that my following rights (among others) are being respected:
  1. The right to be explicitly told, prior to the purchase, the product (or product components), and/or service that is being purchased.

  2. The right to be explicitly told, prior to the purchase, the terms and conditions - in an easy to understand manner - that constitute the transaction.

  3. The right to be explicitly told, prior to the purchase, any important limitations of the product/service purchased.

  4. The right to be charged a reasonable price for the product/service and, if there are recurring payments to be made, the right to pay the agreed sum at reasonable intervals rather than in advance without any incentive.

  5. The right to have my personal information respected and/or the right to decide if I may allow to share it.

  6. The right to receive incentive/s for allowing to share my personal information if I so decide.

  7. The right to receive full utility inherent in the nature of the product/service without any restrictions artificially and intentionally imposed.

  8. The right to receive a refund within a stipulated period if I'm unsatisfied with the product/service.

  9. The right to exit the service without an added cost and/or the right to decide if I may retain the service for an agreeable period.

  10. The right to receive an incentive if I decide to retain the service for the agreed period.
Purchasing Tata Sky requires a consumer to abandon all the above rights. I believe that the benefits gained by making the purchase are not worth the compromise.

UPDATE, Apr-3: Since this post continues to get a lot of attention, I decided to update it with new information I gleaned recently. Although it might seem that Cable TV subscription costs (around Rs.300/mth in metros) are comparable with Tata Sky subscription (Rs.300/mth), yet if you add all the hidden costs of Tata Sky a very different picture emerges. This is particularly true in case of multiple TVs where Tata Sky is over two and a half times more expensive than cable over a five year period.

Five-Year Cost Comparison Between Cable TV (analogue) and Tata Sky

                       single TV      two TVs      three TVs

Cable TV          Rs.18,240     Rs.18,370     Rs.18,450

Tata Sky*         Rs.24,000     Rs.35,500     Rs.47,000

* assuming you don't relocate and your set top box doesn't breakdown after one year. If either of these happen, add additional cost. See the calculation behind this.
_______________________________________

How was this calculated?

The costs in all cases include hardware, installation, subscription and maintenance costs (at today's prices) over a five year period. Basically, Cable TV is so cheap because it costs next to nothing to connect multiple TVs and because it has no maintenance costs. All you need is a coaxial cable splitter and you can connect as many TVs as you want. Since there is no STB so you don't have to worry about maintenance either.

Note that in case of Cable TV, the only installation expense is the cost of coaxial cable you use from the nearest connection to your house. The cable guy might quote a prohibitive amount for this wire but you have the option of getting your own (it's freely available at hardware stores) at a much cheaper price.

Here is a complete breakup of the costs over five year period for three televisions.

Cable TV - three TVs

HARDWARE
Installation Wiring = Rs.8/m x 30m = Rs.240 (would vary)
Coaxial Cable Splitter (three-way) = Rs.50
Wiring for two additional TVs = Rs.8/m x 20m = Rs.160 approx.

SUBSCRIPTION
Five years = Rs. 300 x 60 months = Rs.18,000

MAINTENANCE
Zero maintenance

TOTAL Rs.18,450
________________________________________

Tata Sky - three TVs

HARDWARE
Three set top boxes = Rs.3000 x 3 = Rs.9000
Installation primary = Rs.1000
Installation secondary = Rs.500 x 2 = Rs.1000

SUBSCRIPTION
Five years = (Rs.300+100+100) x 60 months = Rs.30,000

MAINTENANCE
Annual maintenance charges for three STBs after first year = (3 x Rs.500) x 4yrs = Rs.6,000

TOTAL Rs.47,000
________________________________________
Bottom Line: If you use Cable TV for three TVs over a ten year period, you save Rs.57,100. Good enough for a home theater projection system. You also incur zero cost on maintenance, zero cost on relocation, you get a larger collection of channels and more protection against price hike in subscription since you can pressure your cable operator but can't do anything if Tata Sky raises the prices.


UPDATE, Apr-26:

Tata Sky Drops 13 Zee Channels Without Explanation

Sometime around end of March Tata Sky stopped broadcasting 13 Zee channels without giving as much as an explanation over the reason behind the draconian action. Well, this is one gets when one surrenders their rights in favor of "excellent picture quality". As much as we all like to hate our cable operator, we'll have to admit that something like this would never happen with cable TV.

As TS user Sampath noted in comments below: "Tatasky makes a tomtom when it adds channels but is radiantly silent when channels are dropped." Apparently they even removed two Neo Sports channels recently, reducing total number of channels to 91 and not 100 as advertised.

Another user Pramila wrote on April 25: "Even today their site mentions that all these channels are available. This is cheating of the first order."

Those who have studied the TDSAT ruling behind this action say that Tata Sky will now save Rs.42 per consumer. However, they have not reduced subscription charges to pass on these savings even though they are quite prompt in increasing the price when additional costs are incurred by adding new channels.

The channels which have been discontinued by Tata Sky include Zee Classic, Zee Action, Zee Premier, ETC, Zee Music, Zee Sports, 24Ghante, Play TV, Zee Jagran, Zee Smile, and regional channels such as Zee Kannada, Zee Telegu and ETC Punjabi.

UPDATE, Sep-01:

TRAI Issues DTH Regulations: Big Win For Consumers

Over the past six months, this post has reached an estimated 100,000 people (directly and through word-of-mouth) and has received over 300 comments. But today all those who have suffered through the hands of their DTH operator have a chance to rejoice. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has just issued DTH guidelines that address almost all the issues raised in this post about six months ago and others identified in the comments.

From December 2007 onwards: DTH providers cannot lock you to use their own hardware - the STBs will now work with all providers. They must provide hardware refunds if the consumer wishes to return it. They must attend complaints of quality within a specified period. Prepayment vouchers must not be only paying mechanism. Providers cannot suddenly cancel any pay channel in a short period and without previous notice. Best of all, you can now choose which channels to watch - you don't have to subscribe to channel bouquet offered by the provider!

This is a major win for all those who have expressed their experiences of poor customer service and deceitful practices of Tata Sky. I'd like to think that this post too made a small contribution in bringing the issues to TRAI's attention. I did contact them several months ago with a copy of this post and comments. Although they were already working on DTH regulation at that time, yet many issues raised in this post were missing from their DTH consultation paper issued in Feb.

These problems have now been addressed. We'll never know if this post made a difference but ultimately what matters is that consumer rights have been upheld and DTH operators brought under control. Tata Sky and other operators can no longer do anything they want making a mockery of consumer rights.

To read more about the regulations, see the following stories:

Hindustan Times: Change DTH operator, keep set top box

Hindustan Times: Come December, order DTH a la carte

Business Standard: Trai directs DTH cos to offer refunds

Rediff: TRAI to bat for DTH customers


UPDATE, Jun-06 2008::

For the latest on issues with Tata Sky, head over to Kunal' blog.

Also note that this page features only about half the comments ("Newer" comments link below is not working). To check the latest comments, click on "Post a Comment" link at the bottom of this page and then click on "Newest".

In other news, today's HT reports that ESPN is taking TataSky to court: Channels off air, ESPN to take Tata Sky to court

P.S. Please keep comments civil. Disagreement is fine but insulting someone is not. Such comments will be promptly removed. Thanks.

471 Comments so far       1 – 200 of 471 Newer› Newest»

Anonymous Anonymous:

1 more thing tatasky dealer told me is:

after 1 year warranty/free service period i will have to pay Rs. 500 AMC charges else incase of problem every visit will be charged OR if STB gives problem after 1 yr and i am not on AMC then i might have to re-purchase STB!!

7 March 2007 at 09:50:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Saad:

Maybe once there are enough users and competition, these companies might go the cell phone company way and reduce prices/terms...

In any case, whats the deal with no reception during rains??? Even I lost reception during that.. what is this.. 1940s??

7 March 2007 at 10:45:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger lohit:

well,most of these clauses are there even in the dishtv. they will not bother you untill you are using the service. i am using this for last 6-8months i have not had any problems, except few times when the hardware goes nuts and does not function, but gets alright in few minutes. during rain i had no problem last year.
but most important advantage of dth is to get rid of cablewallas and the local power shutdown, strikes which ban the channels, also you have better viewing experience and quality.
but its little expensive but i chose it over cable mans irritation

7 March 2007 at 11:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

One more point... the 1860 is not the toll free number for MTNL/BSNL users but is a premium number for which the consumer pays... only 1800 or 1600 #'s are toll free numbers

7 March 2007 at 12:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous PJ:

You're doing a great job by taking the pains to explain in detail about the "conspiracy". Unfortunately, even after being aware, at some point or the other, we will be forced to go in for either Tata Sky or Dish TV. And believe me, both of them have more or less similar contractual terms and conditions.

I see no hope with the new players who plan to enter the market either. They are no different. In-fact, these people operate hand-in-hand and ensure that they all set more-or-less similar terms and offer services at similar prices. A monopoly. That way the consumer has no option, and has to bite his teeth and knowingly take up the services.

Sadly, the ONLY option I see is to STOP WATCHING TV and stick on to DVDs.

7 March 2007 at 12:11:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

A VERY GOOD ARTICLE.MANY OF US SIGN THE CONTRACT WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE TERMS AND END UP IN PROBLEMS.DIST TV TERMS AND PERFORMANCE IS NO BETTER.ALL THE DTH OPERATORS' CALL CENTRES ARE MANNED BY PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE SYSTEM. TRAI SHOULD IMMEDIATELY LOOK INTO THE VARIOUS POINTS RAISED IN THE ARTICLE AND PROTECT THE CUSTOMERS AGAINST THESE FELLOWS

7 March 2007 at 13:11:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thanks everyone for chipping in and for providing additional info. I'll update the post.

Saad, yes it's indeed ridiculous that after so many years the satellite TV industry does not have a solution to the rains issue. Tata Sky compounds the problem by not telling consumers about this beforehand. They shouldn't be offering their services int he rain infested areas. If you look at their reviews on Mouthshut, lots of people in the North East have taken subscription and are angry that they didn't know about this issue.

Lohit, the cablewallas are beginning to behave themselves now that they are losing customers rapidly! The cable guy at our place has reduced subscription charges, installation charges and has added a new channel that shows prime movie without any ads. This is perhaps the only good thing that has come out of DTH.

PJ, there's no reason to go with them after learning these facts. Cable TV is a pretty good alternative until there's more competition and these guys get their act together.

7 March 2007 at 13:48:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

why donot u write to TRAI about it on there website?

7 March 2007 at 14:30:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

After my experience with VSNL (Tata Indicom Broadband), I swore never to get any Tata product again and I even try not to buy Tata Salt thse days.

I have been bemused with people's opinions on TataSky on MouthShut. It appears to me that most people either love it or hate it -- There is no in between. Also everybody keeps badmouthing the cablewallahs and how we should get out of their clutches.

Surpisingly I am with the most loathed about company and I love it. I am with my cablewallah in Bangalore who runs Hathway Digital Cable. I bought my set top box for Rs. 2,600 and didn't pay a dime for anything else. I pay Rs. 240 a month for digital cable for all Star, Sun, Zee, DD, etc. channels plus a few more (MBC & Dubai One). I run two TV's: one on digital and the other on regular analog which has 30 odd channels, so I have a good deal. I didn't sign any contract. If there is a problem, I shout at my cable guy who is a 10-minute walk away and everything starts working.

I don't have any problem with the rains either. Sometimes when the power in all of Bangalore goes off, I lose the digital cable but that is few and far between.

I know Hathway messed up a lot of people with their Internet connections, but guys you need to seriously look into their digital cable.

7 March 2007 at 14:48:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Pradeep:

Good one! People who faces such problems, think they cant do much on this and keep quite. But you took initiative and explained a lot. Hats off U :)

7 March 2007 at 15:07:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Re: writing to TRAI, I'm looking at all the options. Another possibility is to file a complaint with MRTP commission.

Under the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Act a restrictive trade practice is one that "prevents, distorts or restricts competition in any manner". Tata Sky certainly qualifies for that by locking you into their hardware and then rendering it useless on deactivation.

The good thing about filing a case under MRTP commission is that if your complaint is accepted, they do all the leg work. They'll appoint an advocate who will fight the case in the courts (you will not be required to attend). All you have to do is to write a simple letter and furnish the required documents.

Re: Hathway, I have to agree, IPTV is indeed good value for money.

Thanks, Pradeep, I'm not someone who'll take such things lying down. Glad that other people are also showing such support.

7 March 2007 at 15:31:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

evan dishtv locks its HW. and you cant add channels.

These issues can only be solved if the DTH provider is forced (by the authorities) to sell only the CARD and the customer buys and uses 3rd party HW as is the case worldwide ( other than monopolistic rupert murdoc owned DTH)

7 March 2007 at 16:11:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Few ppl here have talked abt IPTV. So just wanted to ask if anyone of them have really tried it?

MTNL IPTV now seems to be competitive. 999Rs installation. Their own STB with 100Rs rent. And 199Rs for DD, Star and Sony (total abt 110 channels).

So initial investment is of 999Rs compared to 3900Rs tatasky.

Plus no worries abt STB failure. And monthly 340rs (including tax)

IP based protocol means full flexibility in terms of technology.

Plus obviously no problem incase of rain. Also my tel line has hardly gone down in last 3-4yrs. Broadband is very stable too. So those parts seem stable too.

Plus MTNL is backed by govt. and IOL is backed by Times group (recently they bought Rs 50 million stake in IOL)

I am thinking of IPTV now. DTH is scrapped out of mind.

7 March 2007 at 16:25:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

In the contract, on Page 9, there is a Definitions section. Here, under point no.'mm', the term Tata Sky Hardware is clearly defined as those items which have not been paid for..here the Digicomp is not mentioned. The clause 11.3 specified Tata Sky hardware, not just Hardware, that means no one can take the Digicomp away from you upon deactivation. Read carefully- it says Tata Sky can taka away all the 'Tata Sky Hardware' away, not just 'hardware'

In UK, you need to sign a contract for one year minimum on subscription, and while the Box is free, the monthly charges they pay are much higher. Also, there the Govt. does not have the 'must-share' clasue which we do have in India- so if you want to watch a particular match in Uk, sometimes you wont have a choice but to get a particular sat TV service. But in India, every program/ channel must offer itself to all platforms (DTH/ Cable etc etc) so thats good for us.

3. All consumer durables have an AMC- what is so strange about that? How can any comapny keep on providing the warranty/ service free of cost to every one who bust up their hardware for whatever reason? Of course dealer wil ltry to scare you and sell the AMC to you but no one is forcing to take it -- I will wait and watch for one year

4. Privacy: I had brought up the matter as well and was told that the clause has been changed based on consumer feedback. They have emailed me the clause which appears on the contract now (although there may be some old stock still in the market) - so now basically it is opt-in. Also, they cannot track what channels you watch etc- it is not technically possible. There is only one package right now and everyone has it. However, the caluse does state below that they can share 'group viewing patterns' and not individual viewing patterns. They can not profit from selling your information unless you allow them to- so please dont forget to tick the 'no' box in the contract
"Tata Sky values Subscribers privacy. The personal data provided by you in the Contract Form will remain secure and will be used only by Tata Sky to make contact with you for relevant information about our products, services and offers. We may use the data provided by you in the Subscriber Data Card to make partner offers to you. However If you prefer not to receive any such communication, please use the opt-out check box in the Subscriber Data Card to confirm your choice. We may use or share group viewing patterns of our Subscriber base with government agencies, if required by law or for the purposes of product development, research, strategic, financial or other business decisions. "

5. renewal vouchers are also available in Rs.260 denomination...also I believe very soon they will introduce 'any amount pay' where you can choose to top up only how much you want without buying a recharge voucher...thats obvious, they cant survive with a rigid single method, but they just started a few months back so lets give them a chance

I have found their customer service quite polite and responsive and dont think they are out to fleece every one. Tata has done lot of good for this country too and one can not overlook that fact. In fact their pricing is absolutely transparent, and when they say something is 300, its inclusive of everything unlike Dish who never ads the taxes and you ALWAYS pay more than what their ads have stated.

Still, to each his own and recently I read in a newspaper by Tata Sky person only- that the market is big enough for each consumer to choose what he prefers- whether its cable or DTH or IPTV or whatever...so we can all make informed choices and stick with whatever works for us.

7 March 2007 at 17:11:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Regarding my earlier note on Hathway, I am not sure what I have but I don't think it is Internet Protocol TV or IPTV.

For more details -->
http://www.hathway.com/dctv/setbox.htm

I am not paying Hathway but the cablewallah and I hope it remains that way.

7 March 2007 at 17:34:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Talking of conflict of interest, how more conflicting can it get when you have a Minister of Communications (Dayanidhi Maran) whose brother runs the biggest TV conglomerate in South India (SunTV). His party (DMK) even offered free TV's during this election no doubt to boost TRP's of Sun TV.

7 March 2007 at 17:38:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

RE: the previous anonymous comment, iIt'd help if you identify yourself. Nevertheless, let me reply to each point:

1. Hardware: What good is a digicomp without the dish and the digicard? You haven't addressed the more important point that Tata Sky doesn't reveal that you don't own complete hardware. The fact that they own the dish has been designed to prevent you from using it with another service.

2. UK: You said it yourself, with a contract the equipment is free. Naturally, with the higher standards of living the monthly charges will be higher.

3. AMC: point well taken. This was only added to the post later. I'd like you to reply to main three points I've highlighted. You haven't replied to the fact that the guarantee doesn't cover all components.

4. Privacy: Most of the times the user doesn't even get to read the contract. I was only asked for my signature and the engineer filled up the rest of the form himself. I wasn't even given the chance to look at the options until I specifically asked for it. As I mentioned, I was told that the contract is only to give them permission for installation!

So if Tata Sky has changed this clause, it's great but it's not correct to state that they don't know what channels we are watching. I was specifically told by their head of service over the phone that it's normal to keep that data and they cannot avoid it.

5. Renewal voucher: The retailer I dealt with didn't mention 260 voucher but again it doesn't help if your subscription is Rs300. This is a flat rate, there are no other options so why doesn't Tata Sky simply give vouchers of 300, 600 and so on??? Because they'd like user to keep the extra cash for their premium services and for the interest they generate when unused.

Customer service is indeed polite and helpful but that's like putting lipstick on a pig.

If the all the terms of the plan are designed to rob you of your rights and lock you into the particular service then how does polite customer service help?

7 March 2007 at 17:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Yatharth:

amazing work dude

even i got the impression that 1860 425 was a toll free number !!!!!!!!

7 March 2007 at 19:09:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manik:

Manu,

Hats off to you for taking the time and effort to blog this. And the amount of research you would have done is evident from the post itself.
You are a customer they should feature in the "Jago grahak jago" campaign.


Imagine what my reaction would be when i hear the "isko laga dala to life jingalala" jingle again.

7 March 2007 at 19:13:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Heheh. Thanks Manik! You make me want to read the post again. =)

7 March 2007 at 19:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Mohan:

Thanks, I got here from mouthshut.. I was thinking of going for Tatasky, and I'm glad I read this first!Good work

7 March 2007 at 19:59:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger socrates:

A great review. After a long time I have read a useful, mature informative review. I had written a email to their customer care & they had replied (after a gap of 15 days) to many queries I had. U have filled in many gaps thanx J

7 March 2007 at 21:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Vivek:

Very well written. I have forwarded the blog link to other apartment owners in my building.

I had also informed NDTV Profit channel a few months back about the privacy issue. As for myself, I was able to 'extract' a letter from tata sky on privacy protection. The letter was a bit vague but will do for now.

Vivek Deveshwar

7 March 2007 at 21:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thank you Vivek. I should have mentioned in the post that I first learnt about their contract from your review on Mouthshut. I'm not sure if I'd have taken the time to read through everything had I not seen your review.

7 March 2007 at 22:10:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Good Work Friends, after knowing all these facts no body should go for TATA SKY.

Thanks for a valuable information.

8 March 2007 at 01:05:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Ravindra:

Great Article. Although most of us will still have to opt between Dish TV & Tata Sky (no other service being available in B class cities), this article helps to take a conscious decision, knowing fully what is in store.

8 March 2007 at 10:15:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Satish:

Hi, Guys ,

DTH:

I also like to point out we are made to pay Service Providers Packages,

Like if a News Package from any DTH vendor will force me all the News Channels and charge me a hefty fee, while Say , I just wanted only CNBC, NDTV and Some regional channels of Kannada Then I am the Big Looser Other News Channel Bundeled will be getting free revenue from Advertisers by showing the number of customer they have signed in , while they may be all bakwas channels with no viewer ship at all.

It happens same in Movie Package and Children Channels Which is unfair Practice. We should have the right to select individual channels and individual channel should have a pricing of its own .We will decide on which one to buy on their pricing.

CAS:
I heard that is possible in CAS system (Bangalore doesn’t have CAS) where you will be paying a fixed Rs 5.00 per channel and you can select any channel of your wish and make your own package+ Free Channel Package. This is good.
We should ask TRAI to make it same in case of DTH and IPTV, Given a Choice I will go for IPTV than a DTH

IPTV:
As IPTV is flexible and I will be paying one bill of telephone and IPTV. I am waiting for the competition to come in , while I heard BSNL has started IPTV , but they haven’t advertised it properly.
This also offers me two-way communication’s without SMS, while I pay in case of DTH in SMS or the Non Toll Free Number as mentioned in this Blog.
I get the flexibilty of browseing the Internet and See the un-limited movie offered by Websites directly on my TV (Provided the TV supports this feature with internal memory)
Days are not so far to such expriences. This can be possible if you get a good Triple Paly box from Telco’s.(May be at 999.00 itself with compitation)

Cable-walla:

I will wait until similar IPTV offer come from AIRTEL , Reliance and other Telco's, as my cable-walla is still dear to me and not causing any trouble.

Thanks to the Good Post Manu.

Do appeal for Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices Act we will support you.

Regards
Satish K

8 March 2007 at 10:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger sabir:

Its nice to know that i am not alone,
Dukh Batne se Kam Hota Hai,
but i guess & i am hopefull, with more competition things will only get better
it happened with mobile service in India,
till such time DD direct seems to be the only option
or is it
Sabir

8 March 2007 at 12:16:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

One important point about us being made a fool of by being made to PAY to watch ads is delt with here..h++p://www.vinuthomas.com/Forums/viewtopic/t=6299.html do have a read and pls add ur comments

8 March 2007 at 12:19:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Satish - Very good point about bundling of channels. We should certainly be allowed to access the choice of channels we want to watch rather than the range of channels the provider wants us to see. Indeed, CAS lets you do precisely that.

Ravindra, you do have a choice - the cablewalla. I just had them install it at my home this morning and unlike a year or so ago, there is no installation fee anymore. I was only charged for the amount of coaxial cable which cost me half than originally quoted by them.

Unlike the big companies, you can bargain hard with these guys. With the DTH threat hanging above them, the cablewalas are more than willing to please you than ever before. Their subscription charges have reduced as well and they recently introduced a new channel offering new movies *without* any ads or breaks.

8 March 2007 at 12:29:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Ramakant:

When Tatsky marketing guys were giving the demo, they were saying that the monthly rental for tasky is Rs200. Then I asked them , since I will subscribe to tasky and you may do monopoly, you may increase the price. Then they answered No, we are controlled by TRAI and since by Jan 2007, TRAI is enforcing to reduce the cost per channel, you will definitely get in less price, But Now Tatasky customer care informed me that , you enjoyed the introductory offer of Rs200 rental. Now your rental is Rs300/-

8 March 2007 at 14:14:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Valroy:

Dear Mr. Manu,

Without your permission, I have shared your link with my entire office. All 300 employees. I do not know of a sane person who will not do the same. No malice to Tata, but its people like you who leverage the power of the internet to allow us to make informed decisions/ choices.

Thank you again. I agree with the post that says you need to be a part of the jago grakah campaign.

I need your help on a decision myself.
Thanks to your post and the subsequent responses, DTH is out - I am considering the local cable operators Set top box - This i Seven Star Cable - Offer is 1500 + 2x500pm installments and 3mths free cable +300pm thereafter. He says all channels
He allowed me to keep the box for two days to test it out - The clarity was impeccable.
Like a post above said, I will just have to call him up24/7 local call and get him hopping home to fix any issue.
What should I do?

8 March 2007 at 15:24:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thanks for sharing this post. I'm glad you found it useful.

The cable set-top box offer sounds good at Rs.2500 for the STB and Rs.300 as subscription. Just make sure of a few of things: One, confirm that all your favorite channels are included and two, ensure that there are no hidden charges. You need to ask him what happens in case the STB breaks down, whether it will work with other services in case you move and what is the certainty that the subscription charges wouldn't be increased. If you feel satisfied with the responses then please go ahead.

8 March 2007 at 17:21:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Vinod:

Recently a consultation paper on DTH has been released on www.trai.gov.in Just have a look at it.

8 March 2007 at 19:21:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thanks Vinod, that's a very timely pointer. I'm taking printout of the consultation paper. TRAI has asked for feedback from all "stakeholders" and I'm certainly going to respond as a consumer of DTH services. I will post my response on the blog in coming days.

8 March 2007 at 19:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Satish:

I think Article Writers of News Paper are taking cues from our Blog , as you see today’s Article from one such Paper , it points to yesterdays mornings discussion we had posted, thanks to them they have done research and added before going to mass.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/25131.html

9 March 2007 at 09:39:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Satish, that's most likely a co-incidence. If the journalist who wrote the Indian Express story
had seen this blog, he would have certainly pointed out the other more serious issues of hardware ownership and restrictions.

9 March 2007 at 10:26:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

A very well written article I must say. Been a 'TattaSky' subscriber for 6 months now. At first the service was horrible...had my tattas in my mouth while watching TV...the quality was horrendous, with constant picture freezes. Realized that the Thomson boxes they provided had this flaw whereas the Humax boxes didn't. Had to threaten them that I will withdraw my subscription if they don't rectify. They didn't oblige until I sent a rant to Mr. Kaushik. Now the picture does not freeze.

I stay in Shillong. We have a pretty heavy monsoon season here. At first they gave me a 60cm dish. The picture would conk off at the slightest drop of rain. However, they changed the dish to a 90 (or maybe its a 120cm) dish when I used to complain a lot about the picture freezes. With the old dish, I could manually get the picture to vanish by pouring a glass of water on the dish. Now with the bigger dish, the picture did not freeze the last time there was some torrential rain. I mentioned this so that people know what to do. However, I did come across the Sky users forums which does have a few pictures of the installation done there. You will notice that the Sky UK provides a mesh dish which is what we should also be provided. In the UK as per the forums, there is no loss of reception even in the most torrential rains. So why can TattaSky provide the same dish here is beyond me. Moreover, they will save money as the mesh dish will use less metal.

Overall my experiences with the service has been a mixed bag. I was with a cable walla who had a monopoly here and I am happy that I am not with them anymore. I have not tried DishTV so cannot comment but with what I have heard, in SHillong, DishTV sucks as they don't have any installers here and the subscriber is required to dish out 1000-1500 extra to get it done or do it themselves. With TattaSky atleast this is not there. Rest all depends on how ones experience has been with the cable walla.

9 March 2007 at 10:45:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

That's another very useful comment. Thanks for sharing! This will help me in drafting my response to "Quality of Service" issues in TRAI consultation paper on DTH.

9 March 2007 at 12:46:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

" Manu Sharma said...

That's another very useful comment. Thanks for sharing! This will help me in drafting my response to "Quality of Service" issues in TRAI consultation paper on DTH. "


Please add this also in your response.......


Commercial interoperability, proposed by TRAI, is only an EYEWASH. Technical interoperability is the only way to give consumers freedonm (just like we are able to change sim cards on gsm).

The providers should only provide smart cards. The subscribers should be free to buy 3rd party hardware and have the freedom to switch operators. Today, that cant be done and the subscriber is saddled with a STB which is nothing more than an expensive paperweight/doorstopper if he wants to switch providers.

9 March 2007 at 22:07:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

"The providers should only provide smart cards. The subscribers should be free to buy 3rd party hardware and have the freedom to switch operators. Today, that cant be done and the subscriber is saddled with a STB which is nothing more than an expensive paperweight/doorstopper if he wants to switch providers."

That could be an option but another possibility is the "buyback scheme" proposed by TRAI in which the user can return the STB to the provider for a refund (adjusted for depreciation).

This seems like a better alternative because if you buy the STB from the market, you can't get a refund (though you can certainly sell it off) in case you want to switch to a completely different technology such as IPTV or CAS.

What do you think?

9 March 2007 at 22:36:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Ok I just realised that the buyback scheme I described is "commercial interoperability." Why do you think it's an eyewash?

9 March 2007 at 22:44:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

"
Manu Sharma said...

Ok I just realised that the buyback scheme I described is "commercial interoperability." Why do you think it's an eyewash? "

It is an eyewash because getting a REFUND would be NEARLY impossible. The DTH providers would impose stringent conditions where in a they may claim that the STB is DAMAGED (which you cant prove otherwise) or they may take an eternity "processing" your refund. There is also a 'depreciation' value attached to these operator provided STBs.

One more thing, these boxes are of the most inferior quality and may fail as soon as the warranty expires , may be before as many ppl have experienced.

SO, when you buy a 3rd party STB u know what u get.

10 March 2007 at 09:57:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Rahul:

This seems to be an amazing & truly valuable comments/discussion.
I was thinking of going in for TataSky when researching on its service I hit this blog post.

Going by the discussion I feel I should defer my decision to go for DTH at this moment.

11 March 2007 at 14:44:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Pegasus:

nice article.... but somehow tata calls for trust... they won't do that bad things mentioned here

11 March 2007 at 18:26:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thank you, Rahul. That's a wise decision considering the choices available now.

Pegasus, I was of the same opinion about the Tata brand until recently. The recent SEZ controversy, my firsthand experience with Tata Sky and what I've read about Tata Indicom Broadband has made me change my opinion about the company.

12 March 2007 at 00:02:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Pawan:

Hey Manu thanks for providing such a useful information about Tata Sky. I was planning to go for Tata Sky but after reading your comments I have decided to stick to Cablewalla. Probably I would think of going for Digital Cable provided by Hathway seems to be good option at this moment.

12 March 2007 at 08:33:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Pawan, I'm glad you found it useful. Most people have responded with shock and surprise over these revelations. I was surprised myself when I learned about them. The media obviously hasn't done its job of telling us of these issues.

12 March 2007 at 12:32:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger rishisinghiiitm:

I agree to the point that the rules in DTH segment needs to be similar to Telecom. Every subscriber should have the choice of choosing the service provider. That will reduce a lot of clauses & complexity that are currently imposed on subscribers. However, it seems that curently entry barrier in this segment is high so the viewers have less choice. For the last 3-4 years only two private service provider manage to enter. I don't know how much time Reliance, Bharti & others will take. Only then the situation become more clear.

13 March 2007 at 11:48:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

DTH expansion has been delayed partly because of the loss of INSAT 4C in July last year. Now that INSAT 4B has been launched successfully into orbit, DTH services -- DD Direct Plus and SunTV in particular -- are expected to get a boost. However, Reliance Bluemagic, Bharti and others will have to wait for transponder space on subsequent INSAT satellites.

This above is from a story in today's HT.

But DTH is not the end-all in TV. IPTV is getting launched and then there's govt regulated conditional access system (CAS) which is on a test run and which provides just as good a picture quality as DTH.

Yet another interesting option is streaming TV directly through the internet on to your PC without any hardware. Joost has been getting a lot of press lately mainly because it's launched by a team that has made two highly successful services in the past - Skype and Kazaa.

Joost doesn't feature Indian channels yet but they have said that they plan to add international channels to their line-up in the near future. It shouldn't be too difficult to stream the content from the computer to the TV using Apple TV kind of equipment. Best thing about Joost I that it's free.

So, there's not really a reason to keep waiting for DTH. =)

13 March 2007 at 13:32:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Parimal:

Dear Friends,
Thanks a lot for the info. you shared via this blog. After reading this I have cancelled the idea of buying Tata Sky.( I already have heard about lots of complaints about the same.) Unlike Tata Sky,Dish TV at least makes you make the payment in multiple forms including cheques,ITZ cards etc. Finally,can someone let me know when Reliance Blue will hit the markets ? Thank you. Regards,
Parimal

13 March 2007 at 16:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous manoj g:

let the tata sky be in sky only!!!lets be peaceful and down to earth.manu u have done a greatjob,keep up the goodwork buddy.

13 March 2007 at 16:27:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger rishisinghiiitm:

Current demand for transponders on satellite for DTH is around 300 while INSAT 4B only managed to add 24. I think India needs to aggressively push more satellites if more players are to enter in this segment. Regularatory approval process also need to be quick. With every successful satellite launch, a new player will make foray into market which by current pace is woefully slow. Also ISRO's dependency on Arianespace (France)on lauching it's satellites delays the launch process.

14 March 2007 at 12:18:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Now DISHTV has blocked access to FREE (DD DTH channels ) to those whose subd have expired. This is ILLEGAL on their part.

This is exactly why DTH operators should be allowed to PROVIDE ONLY the SMARTCARDS and not the HW.

THE HW SHOULD BE 3rd PARTY. ONLY then will competition take off and QUALITY service be provider (Remember GSM MOBILE TELEPHONY where only SIM CARDS are sold and HANDSETS are 3rd party, customer owned?)

14 March 2007 at 22:51:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sabarish:

Hi! Thanks a ton for this review.

15 March 2007 at 21:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I'm Glad i read your blog and Mouth shut review. I was hours away from buying Tatasky. Is there a solution to watch Star sports coz i'm a f1 fan and we dont get star sports in our town for some reason.

16 March 2007 at 11:42:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

RE: Watching Star Sports without cable, you can try TVU player which is a streaming TV service over the internet. They have ESPN too.

TVU Player

It does require a pretty fast internet connection though. Over 300 kbps at the very least.

17 March 2007 at 10:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I agree to most of the points made in this blog. We must thank Mr. Manu Sharma for his useful and valid post, and for the awareness and interest he has generated. Good work.

1. Interoperability is an important requirement. This will happen only after the initial dust settled down, the technology matures and TRAI steps in. You may remember the Reliance-cdma-mobile saga when Reliance entered the arena. It took a couple of years to get out of this buy-from reliance mode. Even now you have to forgo the number when you switch the operator.
2. Cable tv in most of the areas is operating in the grey market and the charges levied varied widely- from rs. 100 pm to over 400 pm. Many did not disclose their subscriber base, used public areas - land/trenches/lamp posts/buildings to criss cross cables without paying usage charges to any one (bribes excepted). CAS has changed this scenario but only in metros. Details are still not available on precise customer base, and the actual monthly charges paid by users who have opted for selective paid channels. Will it be less than rs. 250 pm? What about non metros and towns which are still under the grip of cablewallahs?

3. TataSky should have highlighted the issue of shifting of house/antenna at the time of purchase, because this is the most important issue for the employed lot who have to change residences often, even two times a year. I think DTH operator (both Starsky and Dishtv) are yet to recover from the smuggling of sets to middle east, pay the subscription in Indian rupees(far less than what they have to pay there). But still dismantling and installation charges have to be borne either by Tatasky or the customer. Subsidizing or waiving will be decided by competition and market forces.

I was paying 325 for the cable service (poor picture,sound quality, frequent disruptions in service, only 2 regional-tamil channels, min. 10 calls per month for complaints). I must say I am extremely happy with the TataSky package; no complaints till date.

IPTV launch by MTNL/BSNL is a very limited; you must have the infrastructure - landline/internet connection and not much choice in software. My experience with BSNL internet is worth forgetting.

DTH is an emerging service; I do not think TRAI will intervene till more operators enter and complaints pile up.

18 March 2007 at 06:04:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger exodus:

that was some very good information you posted mate.

thanks. i too was going to buy tata sky. but now i will wait for them to revise the terms.

those terms are just preposterous. they think we are a bunch of fools who will take whatever they throw at us.

i will also do my best to spread the message.

18 March 2007 at 10:16:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Srikanth:

Manu,

This is one of the most comprehensive reviews I've read on any topic. I was seriously considering TataSky, hoping that transmission quality would be better than cable. Your comments, and all of the following updates, put paid to my foray. I'll stick with cable for now.

Please accept my sincere thanks for the amount of time you've put into this review. This goes for all of the other folks as well. I know where I'll go looking in future hoping for a summary on any topic- Manu Sharma's blog..

18 March 2007 at 16:04:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thank you Srikanth, Exodus, Sabarish and others who found this useful. =)

18 March 2007 at 16:09:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Murali:

The help line of Tata Sky is an oxymoron. The veneer of politeness wears away with some questions not to their liking.

I made the unfortunate mistake of choosing Tata Sky on 18th March '07 based on its technology and quality of reception, again to get rid of the cablewallah. (In Chennai, where I live, the CAS is delivered by yet another customer unfriendly company called SCV). Coming from the house of Tata's I felt there would be acceptable level of service, now I realise this is not so. I am trying to get a refund, because the dealer has to do that.

I would rather shout at the Cablewallah instead paying up to the TATAs.

20 March 2007 at 11:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Dear Murali,

I switched to TataSky in Sep 06 at the first opportunity to get out of cable tv. I did a comparative study of dish and tatasky, and opted for the latter after a decent window shopping, demonstration and blog reviews. I am extremely happy 1. with the quality of transmission and reception, 2. uninterrupted viewing even when there is power failure (with my ups) and 3. no phone calls to tatasky (fortunately till now) compared to about 15 per month to the cable operator.

Of course, you must select your vendor carefully keeping local conditions in mind. What are your complaints? SCV is a far better service provider than others, I think.

20 March 2007 at 17:33:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

hi manu,
so finally i have found quite a lotta people to echo the same anger and frustration tht i have ever since i had opted for Tatasky.My story started in a similar manner as the others but there is a change. i bought the STB and got it installed within 2 days from the day of purchase.
But the very next morning the STB failed and thereafter started my problems.I had to wait for nearly a fortnight before their so called engineers came and set up another Digibox.For all the calls i made during tht period,they dint have even the slightest courtesy to call us back and inform us whether the engineers wud come or not.They exemplified the statement "Promises are meant to be broken".
Once tht was done i thought ok atleast from now it'll be smooth.But yesterday evening they suddenly deactivated my viewership citing tht i had illegally transmitted their signals.Now i wonder how on Earth is tht possible since the Dish and the Digibox are only able receptors and not transmittors(at least as far as i know).Now i have been charged with the blame of being a cable operator rather than a respectable customer.All big organisations look to cater to their customer's needs and even in the adverse situations ensure the customers aren't affected until they have solid evidence.But here is an org which first targetted the customer without even taking any efforts to find out the actual reason but instead allegate the customer first.Today when their "Engineers" came home for inspection and found out tht we weren't at fault,they now ask us to write a letter to their Bangalore office for re-activation of the service.
Boss in the first place we were wrongly charged and now we r again being asked to write a letter for the re-activation.I really wonder wat wud u call such an organisation which believes information given by anonymous callers and charging the customers?

21 March 2007 at 14:22:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Hi Manu,

i want to return/stop my TataSky services... could u suggest me.
and could u suggest me any good DTH who have few international and free channels facilities...

21 March 2007 at 15:04:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

You can't get a refund on return. There's no use of the Tata Sky set top box. This is the point of this entry. Once you deactivate, your STB is as good as a brick. You can try to find someone ready to purchase it from you but the process is cumbersome.

1) The buyer will still have to pay Rs.1000 to Tata Sky to get their dish and installation.

2) You will have to get in touch with their Bangalore office so that they issue a new digicard for your STB since currently it's "married" to your card (which means, it wouldn't work with any card except yours).

RE: your second question, there are no players that allow you to get international free-to-view channels. You can try internet streaming TV options such as Joost, if you have a fast connection (512 kbps or more).

21 March 2007 at 17:16:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Height of paranoia

22 March 2007 at 14:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger yukti:

Hi........ It's good that u have displayed the true picture behind TATA SKY and the practices of the company.
Though as of now I am not an user of any satellite TV in India, but was planning to buy Tata Sky.
Somehow i have this feeling that though TATA appears to be ethical but lately its products like Tata Indicom (faced problems personally) , and now this TATA SKY are somewhat decieving and cheating the consumers.
U can not only go to TRAI or MRTP, but can also give a written complaint in District Forum under Indian Consumer protection Act, 1986.
For all the fraud and misrepresentation of information wether through Misleading Advertisements or through some other means are wrong according to this act and as a consumer we have full rights to register a complaint against this.
As I can also see number of people agree with u on the fraud TATA SKY is doing with its customers, u can lodge a Class Complain under the same act, which will enable u to represent the other consumers as well.
If I may suggest to you one more thing, pls send in writing the complaint to TATA SKY office, as under new rules of Corporate Governance the companies are expected to respond to the stakeholder griviences and as a customer we are one of the stakeholder to the company.

22 March 2007 at 14:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

It is unfortunate that many potential users are postponing their decisions to switch to tatasky (or dishtv). I am a satisified customer and have enjoyed uninterrupted good quality tv for the past 8 months from tatasky. Let me list the good points.

1. I bought before the Z channels were added. The dealer himself fixed the appointment for the installation of antenna the next day.

2. The installation team turned up on time, were very polite and professional, had all the equipment (drilling m/c, foundation bolts, cable clamps,alignment meter etc.) and completed the installation in an hour. The cable was neatly clamped on the terrace parapet and inside the room also upto tv with a proper hole drilled for cable entry inside the room. I have seen dishtv antennas installed by nails and cables clamped with strings.

3. My experience with the cable operator is best forgotten; I watch good quality tv now.

4. You must understand that sat-tv is installation specific (like our BSNL landlines)and one is not allowed to shift without permission . Tatasky may reduce or waive relocation charges when competition picks up. I had paid Rs 1000 for the cable operator for starting the service a decade ago, and had to pay Rs. 500 for restarting when I had moved out of the city for 3 years. You must also realize that many dishtv and tatasky customers have taken the equipment to middle east with the subscription paid by relatives in rupees. This is illegal and the equipment is now confiscated by the customs.

5. I agree, this issue of relocation and the cost involved must be highlighted at the time of purchase. The user will get a big shock if he has to shift within a few months. I am sure the cable operator also will demand installation/connection charges, especially if there are no subscribers nearby.

6. Do not be influenced by complex issues - amc for stb, tied up to one vendor, uncertainties in the monthly rental etc. These are common to all. If you want to watch good quality tv (video and sound), and the cable operator is unable to provide this, now is the time to change. Tatasky has crossed 500,000 customers (their own figure conveyed through tv). It is well known that the cablewala operates in the grey market, without disclosing the full subscriber base to the content providers.

7. Of course, the decision is yours; but do not be swayed by extraneous issues. They will get sorted out by a) expanding user base 2. Customer voice and 3. TRAI and TDSAT.

22 March 2007 at 15:53:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Awesome article - loved it.
I'm a TataSky subscriber and my reason was 1) better quality 2) got tired of the cable guy 3) wanted to see neo sports and some other channel that my cable dude does not provide. I also have one advantage - I didn't need a personal dish - I live in an apartment and TataSky installed a big-ass dish for all of us. I do have the cable also - 1) for backups during rain 2) to run 2 other TVs in the house.
Has anyone tried to hook up the TV via the RCA and another TV/monitor via the RF output? I'm guessing that should work. I'm trying to get the digicomp work with a PC based DVR - or hack it - if I can :)
Cheers!

22 March 2007 at 18:27:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

I have connected both RF and AV out puts to my TV (to check picture quality). You can connect the RF output to TV tuner in the pc for use as DVR. I wish Tatasky will come out with a STB with built in recorder. Sky UK is offering such a hard disc based STB-Time shift recorder (15 hours of recording) for around 85 Pound sterling. The consumer magazine of UK 'Which' had recommended it. Let us hope and pray!

22 March 2007 at 19:22:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

hi manu,
Is the Digicomp or the Dish capable of only receiving signals or is it also possible to transmit signals from them? If so,how can it be done?

23 March 2007 at 08:20:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

"Is the Digicomp or the Dish capable of only receiving signals or is it also possible to transmit signals from them? If so,how can it be done?"

First of all, the Digicomp can't do either without the dish. If you de-activate Tata Sky, they take back the dish.

Second, even if you get a new dish, you can't use the Digicomp without "flashing" it and loading a new software. I have no clue how that may be done.

Third, conceivably, you may be able to transmit signals in some way while still retaining Tata Sky connection but according to the terms it's illegal. Tata Sky might remotely detect that you're transmitting the signal (read the experience of the person above who was mistakenly told that) and confiscate the dish.

23 March 2007 at 11:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Akash:

I truly agree with the comments :

1) In DishTV also, we should have the liberty to choose our own channels, not the different packages like DishTV or Tatasky cos if you count on your fingers there would be :
a) 3-4 news channel you watch
b) 3-4 soaps channel
c) 3-4 sports channel
d) 3-4 kids channel
e) 3-4 music channel
f) 7-8 English and hindi movie channels combined
g) FTV etc
h) 5 misc. channels

so in all not more than say 40 channels ?

then why should i pay for the rest of the bakwaas channels.

but TataSky has kept one policy of Rs 300 for all the channels and out of that only 40% would be the one i would be browsing.

moreover DishTV has put the channels in such packages so that even if you watch jsut 2 channels out of the bouquet you waste your money paying for the other 8 rubbish channels in the same bouquet.

moreover, Dish TV was introduced to bring down the cost from cable tv.

Currently i pay Rs 330/- for 3 tv's at my home.

If i go for DTH then i have to pay for 3 STB's plus full subscription for one TV and 100 additional for all the other TV's so the monthly bill becomes 500. this is rediculous, where am i saving ?

I am sure our politicians definitely have a hand in this.

please let me know if we can put up a case against these malpractives or if anything can be done regarding this.

Thanks and keep posting.

regards
Akash

23 March 2007 at 15:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Akash:

Do you live in a CAS area? You have got the best offer from any cable operator. Why should you change if the content and quality are acceptable? What is the break up of charges for the first connection and additional tvs?

I agree, if you have the choice to select what you watch, 40 channels are more than adequate. Else you will only be surfing and not watching!

23 March 2007 at 19:25:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Akash:

Anonymous,

I am not living in CAS area and would definitely love to shift on IPTV or DTH, provided the costing is appropriate, cable TV is sick, the cablewalla has a power failure thats why we have to sit with our TV's switched OFF, moreover if the cable is down for 10 days in a month he is still demanding the full monthly amount, i must say cablewallah thing is rubbish, infact the reception of all the channels is so poor.

but until there is no other alternative, majboori ka naam mahatama gandhi !

23 March 2007 at 20:19:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

hi manu,
Its the same person who was charged with illegal distribution of signals.Now,ultimately i've been told tht my account will NEVER EVER be re-activated again.This is very discomforting.I m still perplexed.
I have even asked those people to recheck at my premises and examine every component of their hardware to see if i have really done any manipulation.
Boss i have my own job to do.I work in a respectable organisation
and am not that technically well versed to resort to such malpractices.I just donno wat to do next.I m planning to move the consumer court.wat wud you do in such a situation?

25 March 2007 at 17:01:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

This is absolutely ludicrous. As you are completely innocent, you should definitely move to consumer court for deactivation and for the harassment caused to you. Make them pay!

25 March 2007 at 17:15:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Tatasky_worst:

hi manu,
I guess tht's the best option left for me. wat i want to know is these guys have accused me on the basis of some number tht gets flashed on the screen time and again while we r watching tv.cant there a fault at their end?

25 March 2007 at 17:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Since you haven't done anything, it has to be a fault at their end. Either they did something wrong during installation or it's a problem in their equipment/ software or an error in their monitoring equipment which told them that you're transmitting.

It should not worry you because you are honest at your end. You are a rightful owner of the Digicomp and are entitled to receive their service. If they cancel it suddenly for whatever reason and then wrongly accuse you of tampering with the equipment and transmitting the signal, you're free to pursue legal action for deactivation and harassment.

Feel confident to go ahead and file the case.

25 March 2007 at 18:23:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

HElp:::::
I'm a big F1 fan(i get my at unearthly hours to watch the races). I love to watch f1 live. I've watched couple of races directly abroad jus to see the cars and drivers. My town doesnt even have a single cable operator, who broadcasts star sports.(sivakasi, tamilnadu) I dont have a choice but to go for DTH (Tata sky). Or do i have an option? help me!!If i live in an apartment i dont mind sharing with other folks, but i live in a house. I dont know anyone who has a DTH so i could go by their home and watch.

27 March 2007 at 10:07:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

I think I responded to your previous comment above.

You can watch F1 and other sporting events on TVU Player, which is an internet streaming TV service. It has Star Sports as well as several ESPN channels. Also check out their forum for news and discussion.

http://www.viidoo.com/
http://forum.viidoo.com/

You would need a fast internet connection (around 512 kbps) for playing stremaing TV. BSNL has a few plans with pretty good speed though with a monthly download limit. They allow free downloads during the night.

http://www.bsnl.co.in/service/dataone_tariff.htm

27 March 2007 at 13:25:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

thank you

27 March 2007 at 15:19:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Eric Kerala:

Hey, Thx for the info on tatasky. Very well documented and researched. I was very interested in taking a connection myself, but after reading your blog, I have my set of questions. I should be talking to one of the dealers close to my place about these "rules". He should be able to help me out if there are any loopholes. I'll surely share it with you. Thanks again

31 March 2007 at 14:39:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger simi:

Manu, Hats off for the pain taken to write such a d-e-t-a-i-l-e-d report. Enlighted me to the core.

3 April 2007 at 07:23:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Tata group a decade ago was associated with best business practices and being customer friendly. These days they are no different from Reliance in their business practices

Shame on Mr Ratan Tata for reducing a great company to a bania venture

3 April 2007 at 09:02:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Hi Manu,
Kudos to you for taking up this issue. Its really the time when we, the consumers should wake up.
You have already addressed all the points that I can think about and I hope you are going to send it to TRAI for their consultation paper.
I have, however, been toying with an idea for some time now. Why shouldn't the subscriber pay for only what they have watched. I mean the system ( and I'm sure it can be accomplished) should monitor the usage, there should be standard tariffs for channels and the user will pay only for what he has watched. Suppose discovery put a tag of Re 1/- per 10 hours ( indicative) and I watched for 65 hours in a month, I should pay Rs 7/-. This will ensure that all the crap channels are out of sight and only the quality stuff remains. The charges may be fixed a bit on the higher side so that the channels get enough revenue. This should be the ideal model instead of monthly fixed charges. The monthly charges may be compared to you having to pay a fixed amount for going to a restaurant, no matter you go once or everyday, no matter what you eat. The charges should be for what I ate and how much. I agree there may be small packets like 10 hours.
Give it a thought if you feel its worth discussing. Dont feel technology can be a handicap. If you want it, it can be done. You just may have to want it badly.
I would probably send a paper to TRAI myself but I'm very busy for these few days.

3 April 2007 at 11:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Atul:

Tata sky is a farce in the name of service. I set up a connection on 19th march. By 28th march the remote conked off. Logged in a complaint. The call centre rep said it will take 72 Hrs. It now nearing a week there has been no replacement of the remote. Worst is their call centre executives dont even have the status as to when the remote will be shipped.

Utterly disappointing experience dealing with Tata Sky on Service Issues.

3 April 2007 at 12:27:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Usage-based payment model that you're proposing will be liked by those who do not watch a lot of TV and hated by those who do.

It's similar to how most entry-level internet plans are structured in this country - you pay for the number of hours / data transfer over the month. Unless all you have to do is check email, It's not a very popular model as people prefer unlimited plans. In US or UK, there are no time based or data based plans at all.

So I'm not sure if usage-based payment model would succeed in television. I'd rather prefer to be given choice on the channels we wish to subscribe instead of packages.

3 April 2007 at 12:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Thanks For the nice analysis Buddy!!
I was planning to go for the tata sky service. But now would have to give it a thought.

All these big indian companies ..reliance, tata, etc. are all crap..
they have the worst customer service one can think of.
Reliance looks more like a group of underworld dons killing people in there own way.
Asking for help is like taking their obligation..as if they are serving for free.

EVERY ONE SHOULD BE VERY VERY CAREFULL ABOUT ANY HIDDEN COSTS THAT ARE THERE IN THESE NICE TO HEAR SERVICES.

3 April 2007 at 14:13:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I am using TATA SKY for past 4 minths now...After carefull market review of DTH providers i opted for tata.I am glad to have made that decision.

The reception is simply awsome,Active khabar,sports is something that i never thought of that my tv could have given to me...............

Ownership and contract is something that is never in consumer favour,u can take any contract that u have signed till date,be it any u will definately find some clause that will deter u from getting that product........

I do agree from all but we will have to keep ths in mind that no doubt we have freedom of choice,but is there freedom from choice......????

3 April 2007 at 14:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

This was a nice article. I guess it needs to be reported to a responsible person in TRAI.

3 April 2007 at 15:32:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger vivekkedia:

Hi,
After reading all the drawbacks with tata sky, some real and some figment of imagination of a creative writer, i have installed it and its doing good for me, atleast it got me rid of local cable dudes


vivek

3 April 2007 at 17:13:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Vivek, it's convenient to call the objections "figment of imagination" without explaining what you mean. If you could point to specifically which arguments you consider imaginary, perhaps I can respond to them.

Also, since you switched to Tata Sky from Cable TV, I hope you read the latest update to the post (made moments after your comment) in which I did a cost comparison between the two.

3 April 2007 at 23:01:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Dear Manu Sharma,
You have want to prove that cable tv is far superior to TataSky in all respects. I don't want to argue with you on every point, but would like to make points.

1. All equipment carry an initial warranty; you are free to take a AMC or get it repaired when the
equipment fails. I have not taken any AMC for any of the appliances in the last 20 years; Fortunately or unfortunately I have not faced any problem in working, and have been forced/tempted to go for better quality equipment due to relentless march of technology. I am sure many will switch over to STBs with built in recorder for desynching viewing.
2. If you do economic forecast, you must also do a sensitivity analysis. Your assumptions are all variables and no one can predict which way they will turn. I paid close to Rs. 16 per minute for mobile calls and had to pay for the incoming calls as well.
3. Cable TV operators run the cable all over the town, through lamp posts, buildings, trees, and what not without getting any approval from civic authorities.(of course regularised!!! by bribing). No cable operator will allow you to buy your own cable and lay it; he also will put the blame on you for poor picture quality. If I connect as many tvs as I want, who will take care of signal loading and deterioration? Even my cable operator, when complained about poor quality, will cite loading as the reason, fiddle with the booster, swap connections and transfer poor quality to some other subscriber, may be my neighbour.
3. With STB and encryption, I wonder how many TVs can be connected for watching different channels.
4. A request to users: If you are happy with your cable operator, quality of tv picture/sound,why change? If you want a new better tv viewing experience, then evaluate sat tv options. Other procedural issues raised by Manu will not affect your viewing pleasure. They are not relevant. Reduction in tariff, user choice in selection of channels, will follow when market expands and competition builds up.
5. If you are a technical wizard, you can buy all the equipment, motorised antenna, STB with tuner and enjoy free transmission from all visible satellites.
6. I am happy with the terms and service of Tatasky.

4 April 2007 at 12:49:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Hi Sampath,

Please see my response under your quotes.

"You have want to prove that cable tv is far superior to TataSky in all respects. [...]"
I have said no such thing. Nowhere did I say that Cable TV is "far superior" to Tata Sky. I've only done a cost comparison -- which is one of the aspects -- in which Cable TV triumphs over Tata sky overwhelmingly. I have only put the facts on the table, readers can make up their own minds. I have done the comparison because this issue (of increasing cost with multiple TVs in case of Tata Sky) is not commonly known.

"I am sure many will switch over to STBs with built in recorder for desynching viewing."
Ah yes, certainly. At which point the Rs.4000 investment in the STB will become useless as you will be required to purchase a much more expensive STB with no option to upgrade the current STB with obsolete technology.

"1. All equipment carry an initial warranty; you are free to take a AMC or get it repaired [...]"
Completely agree. But this is to be viewed in the context of available alternatives. The fact of the matter is, with cable, there is ZERO HASSLE of an equipment failing because there is no equipment at all. So AMC / repair is an additional cost that comes with DTH.

"2. If you do economic forecast, you must also do a sensitivity analysis. Your assumptions are all variables [...]"
I have not done a forecast. This is a PROJECTION. There is a difference between the two. I've mentioned that this is done on today's prices. If you look up reviews of DTH elsewhere in the media, you will see a common perception in the public and the reviewers that once you are locked into a DTH service you have no recourse to a price hike. You cannot do anything. Please read above the comment of a user who at the time of signing up for Tata Sky was told that the price wouldn't increase from Rs.200 and then very soon it suddenly increased to Rs.300. Agreed Tata sky added additional channels but this consumer was made to understand that the price wouldn't rise and he was not given an option to stay with the previous set of channels. This is clearly a monopolistic strategy.

"3. [...] No cable operator will allow you to buy your own cable and lay it"
This is incorrect. I was given this option when I moved back to Cable. The Cable operator quoted his cable cost @Rs.21/m but in the market it's available for Rs.6-8/m. I negotiated with him and brought down his price to Rs.12. But I did have an option to use my own cable from the nearest connection point. If you'd like I can give you the number of my cable operator and you can confirm it yourself.

"If I connect as many tvs as I want, who will take care of signal loading and deterioration"
There is no deterioration. Cable splitters are quite common. In fact when cable operators provides someone with a new connection from the pole, they use splitters themselves.

"3. With STB and encryption, I wonder how many TVs can be connected for watching different channels."
Tata Sky provides two options, one of buying new equipment and another of getting parallel connections which are not very useful since you can only watch the same program on both TVs.

"If you are happy with your cable operator, quality of tv picture/sound, why change?"
I agree.

"If you want a new better tv viewing experience, then evaluate sat tv options."
Yes, and be aware of everything that you are getting into.

"Other procedural issues raised by Manu will not affect your viewing pleasure. They are not relevant."
Correct, you will have excellent picture quality as long as you remain happy being exploited of your rights. :-)

"5. If you are a technical wizard, you can buy all the equipment, motorised antenna, STB with tuner and enjoy free transmission from all visible satellites."
Sorry, that's not true. Please read the post above in which I explain at various places why that's not allowed. For example, according to the terms you cannot move the antenna and that there's no interface to receive FTA channels.

"6. I am happy with the terms and service of Tatasky."
Congratulations. Let meet in a few years when the facts regarding need for multiple TVs, rain interrupted TV viewing, faulty set top box and several other compromises highlighted above will be clearer.

4 April 2007 at 13:38:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Just a few clarifications:
1. I was clearly told that the Rs 200 subscription was valid till dec 06 and will not be raised even if channels were added. Close to 35 channels were added before sub. was raised to 300 by Jan end.
2. I meant, as an amateur, you can buy antenna, tuner etc. from other vendors, not Tatasky.
3. I read in another blog that Tatasky has charged 3250, installation included, when multiple connections were taken in a single society. Pricing is a moving target, and I hope, we will benefit in the long run.
4. Are you referring to analogue cable tv, when you talk of multiple tvs in the same household? Is it not a dying proposition? I was wondering how it is possible to do this with encrypted tv broadcasts, for which a STB is necessary. Even if a splitter is commonly used to divide the signal, there is a limit to the number of destinations a source (amplifier) can support. Cable length also plays a role.
5. Disruption during rains (drizzle, moderate or heavy) is a possibility; we have to rough it through one season to get a real picture. My cable operator was not immune to this; either he he or the control centre (from whom he gets the signal) suffered black outs.
6. I agree, single bouquet without choice is a minus point with Tatasky. I did not have that luxury from the cable operator too. I am getting a better value for money from Tatasky. I get more watchable channels now.
7. If you would like to reveal the name of your cable operator and the area, new subscribers from your area will be benefited.
8. Of course, those who wait will benefit, because the prices will fall, but that is a conscious decision. Cable operators will suffer if the loop holes, unauthorised cabling, incomplete subscriber base, no auditing of revenue records etc. are plugged. Let us wait and see.
9. Your observations are valid for Dishtv also, I believe, except multiple choices.

4 April 2007 at 17:11:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Mayur, Pune:

1. As of Apr 04,2007 Tata Sky has a website for subscribers where they can login and manage their account and recharge as well (paying thru credit card and bank account service is in the pipeline this means I can recharge for as much amount as I want).
2. It is a premium service the quality is fantastic, i have purchased the system when it was launched and I have no issues uptil now its been almost 7 months now.
3. With this kind of quality Rs 300 is nothing.You are trying to compare a Honda Accord with a Maruti 800.Both of them are unique in their own ways.
4. Every electronic product has a 1 year warranty, the STB which tata provides is just another electronic product.
5.Last year when it rained extremely heavily with thunderstorms then the channels went fuzzy for a while, but I am ok with a few minutes of pain rather than baring the cablewallahs pathetic service.
6. Tata never ever mentioned that the numbers they provided are toll free any educated person would know that, I dont know why a literate person like you could not figure that out.
7.What I liked about subscribing to Tata is that they say the price and stick with it, 300 means 300 including everything. I doubt that dish tv has the same ethical values.
8.I have knowledge of STB and I especially wanted the THomson STB because it is a reputed STB worldwide.ITs a French company it has to be good. Humax is korean , so anyone who goes with Tata sky go for Thomson its too good.
9.I toook the connection in the initial phase where it was 200 Rs for 4 months, and I did not come across any claims that they said that they would stick with that price, they clearly and repeately told that it was just a introductory price and it would change later. So when it became 300 I was not surprise as a matter of fact I was pleased because my cable wallah was ripping me off for Rs 350 the service was horrible.
10. As for any company who starts new there are bound to be problems, but Tata is improving on a daily basis, so there could be better options and choices for a consumer like me.
11.Also lets not focus only on Tata, coz Sky is a partner in the same and that was my key reason to enter into this.Sky will get more cool channels than Zee or cable wallah, BECAUSE SKY owns the best channels in the world in terms of entertainment.
13. Talking about the dish, they never said that the dish is yours, now any logical person would know that if the dish is owned by Tata they TATA is responsible if it not works, they would definitely replace it free of cost.
14.By the way, the dish is pointed towards insat satellite and hence you cannot change it. Insat is a government satellite and tata has to go through it so that the GOVT control the content.
15.Before you post another comment saying that Im a tata employee or something like that, let me tell you I'm Not.

4 April 2007 at 18:04:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I found this review a little late.
A little earlier, and maybe I would have been prepared for it.

As a product TataSKY is good, but the after sales, reminds me of government offices in the earlty 90's.

TataSky does not even acknowledge receipt of the email. There is no failure notice, no auto-acknowledge, nothing. I am just sending mails into outer space. I wonder if they are beaming tham back to earth through the TV channels. Don't know, because, I relocate and TataSky is busy selling more connections. The existing customers can take a flying *3@%.

4 April 2007 at 18:18:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Reponse to Sampath's last post above.

I was clearly told that the Rs 200 subscription was valid till dec 06 and will not be raised
Not everyone was given that impression by Tata Sky reps. The comment I referred to is by "Ramakant".

I read in another blog that Tatasky has charged 3250, installation included, when multiple connections were taken in a single society.
These incident are irrelevant for individual users. For example, in another society I know, residents are playing Rs.50/month for cable. You get much more bargaining power when you deal with Cable.

Are you referring to analogue cable tv, when you talk of multiple tvs in the same household? Is it not a dying proposition?
With Analogue cable being the preferred way of over 95% of people (or perhaps more) to receive broadcast channels, I don't think so.

I am getting a better value for money from Tatasky. I get more watchable channels now.
More watchable? Which channels you get on TS that are not available on Cable? In fact, Cable offers a bunch of regional channels (for those who prefer it) that you don't get with TS.

If you would like to reveal the name of your cable operator and the area, new subscribers from your area will be benefited.
I live in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon. My cable operator is Spice Communication, #4046 Sec 23-A, Gurgaon. Ph#2366420.

Cable operators will suffer if the loop holes, unauthorised cabling, incomplete subscriber base, no auditing of revenue records etc. are plugged.
This is speculation of course. As I've seen the price reduce from Rs360/mth to Rs.300/mth in wake of competition from Tata Sky, I expect further drop in pricing.

And there's no certainty that DTH prices will fall at the same time too. I remember reading a comment by Bharti or Reliance (upcoming entrants in DTH) that DTH is not viable under Rs.500/mth.

Your observations are valid for Dishtv also, I believe, except multiple choices.
Perhaps but I'm not familiar with their service and haven't researched it at all.

4 April 2007 at 18:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Response to Mayur, Pune.

As of Apr 04,2007 Tata Sky has a website for subscribers where they can login and manage their account and recharge as well
Thanks for the info. Please also inform me when they issue a Rs.300 recharge coupon - which is likely to remain the preferred mode of over 10 lakh Tata Sky users most of who may not have internet access or may prefer to not transact online.

It is a premium service the quality is fantastic.
No issues with the quality of service. When it works, it's indeed nice.

With this kind of quality Rs 300 is nothing.
As I stated in my last update, the monthly subscription is NOT indicative of what you end up paying for the service in the long run. If you see the cost comparison in case of multiple TVs Tata Sky is as much as 2.5 times more expensive. Since the trend is towards more than one television in a home, it's not a welcome thought to a TS subscriber.

Every electronic product has a 1 year warranty, the STB which tata provides is just another electronic product.
I addressed this issue in my first response to Sampath above. The point is, this is not an issue at all with Cable.

Last year when it rained extremely heavily with thunderstorms then the channels went fuzzy for a while, but I am ok with a few minutes of pain
So the "premium service" "Accord" doesn't run in rain? No such issues with "Maruti 800".

Tata never ever mentioned that the numbers they provided are toll free any educated person would know that
All 1800 numbers are Toll Free.
Most service providers have toll free numbers.
Tata Sky is a service provider.
Tata Sky's number begins with 1864...
Enough said.

What I liked about subscribing to Tata is that they say the price and stick with it
Look up "Ramakant" on this page.

they clearly and repeately told that it was just a introductory price and it would change later
Obviously, not to everyone.

my cable wallah was ripping me off for Rs 350 the service was horrible.
You shd learn the art of negotiation. It's surprising how much you can get while bargaining with the Cable operator. As I mentioned previously, I know of an apartment building in Delhi where the residents got together and negotiated with their operator. For the past year or so they are paying Rs.50/mth for the same package they were previously paying around Rs250 or so. IDPL apartments, Pitampura.

As for any company who starts new there are bound to be problems, but Tata is improving on a daily basis.
I'd subscribe to TS without a blink if they fulfilled the 10 assumptions I mentioned above, offered the equipment for free (with a limited period contract that I'm ready to sign) and promised to never increase their price again. Is it going to happen? I doubt it.

Sky will get more cool channels than Zee or cable wallah, BECAUSE SKY owns the best channels in the world
I'm not so sure. BskyB (formerly Sky TV) is more popular in UK than in US.

Talking about the dish, they never said that the dish is yours
Please point to me at which page on their site or their marketing leaflets do they explicitly mention that they will retain the ownership of the dish.

Before you post another comment saying that Im a tata employee or something like that, let me tell you I'm Not.
I don't think I ever made that accusation to any TS supporter on this page (I've only had very few of them while a large majority has agreed with me). I do believe you are writing in good faith but are just misguided.

4 April 2007 at 19:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Somebody posted that TATA has done good things to this country and they cannot cheat people. I disagree on this point. I too had terrible experience with TATA Indicom (VSNL) broadband. And they give me peanuts service (overall about a months service, with many interruptions) at the exchange of my 5700 Rs worth Six months prepaid service. I too believe that TATA service is like winning a lottery of the cost of its ticket. If it clicks you get full service worth of what u paid, else you may get anything ranging from 0-100%.

4 April 2007 at 19:57:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

DTH services not viable under Rs.500: Reliance

I mentioned this in one of my comments above. Now I found the original source. See this Hindustan Times story from which the following quote is taken:

"...as far as pricing is concerned, the source mentioned that DTH services are not viable below Rs 500 per subscriber and hence Blue Magic may be expected to offer its services at Rs 500. Close to Rs 200 crores have gone into the DTH venture of Reliance."

It's hard to think that Reliance will be the only provider with this price range. It follows that Tata Sky users shd be prepared for a raise as well. Reliance is expected to launch by the end of the year.

4 April 2007 at 20:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Dear Manu,
I think we can now conclude: If you are content with analogue signals, want multiple tv viewing without or marginal increase in subscription, have time and energy for bargaining, and most important - fully satisfied with the content, quality and service of your local cable operator - then stick to him. Why rock the boat and spend more money? My experience with cable operators in metros like Chennai and Mumbai and non metros Pune,Coimbatore, Tiruchy and a few other places are worth forgetting. You may not believe it, I now pay less for the channels I watch after the switch from cable to Tatasky.

You are really lucky to have a cable operator whom you can vouch for.

4 April 2007 at 22:27:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Sampath, it's not that I'm lucky. The cable operator here is no better than in any part of the country. It's just that I happen to live at a place where DTH is booming. If you take a look around on my roof, you'll see Tata Sky dish at every other house.

This has made the cable operator wake up and start counting his losses. A year ago he wasn't bothered whether you signed up for a new connection or not. Now you just need to call once and they'll bend over backwards to get your connection.

This is all the more reason to stick with cable for now. As the competition gets tougher, you'll see the cable operator behaving themselves. If it's not already happening already in your place, it will happen in the next six months or so.

Whereas on the other hand with such huge investment needed in DTH, the price is only likely to go upwards.

Also, those of us who live in larger families, multiple TVs are a must. So that rules out DTH option because of the exorbitant cost.

I'd say the same thing about executives who change their house frequently. Rs.1000 just for setting up a dish isn't a palatable expense if it occurs too often.

4 April 2007 at 23:01:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger ravi dutt:

Manu -
I agree with most of your comments but sometime you dont have an option and you have to forget your rights.. how many time have u fought with bata to get that 1 paise refund.. as the price was something.99 not the round figure.

I live in delhi one of the colonies.. i opted for dishtv in mid 05.. about to get over my second year with them.
My cable wallah was an Assh***e i managed without a cable for 2 years and then opted for the best possible alternative ie..DTH.
I paid around 5.9k initially and later paid 4.3k for the anual renewal.. the initial 1 year i just had Zee channels as there was no interoperatablity agreement signed.
I am paying around 400 pm currently with all the channels including the star and sonys bandwagon..
i agree dish is on lease and its clearly mentioned in the agreement.. but i dont mind.. i paid the money for the service and i am getting it..
If i living in delhi.. the capital can face hardship i can imagine the fate of ppl living in far flung areas.. DTH is definately a boom for them..
I am a techy so ready to adopt anything new if its good.. like i paid around 20k for my first handset in 97 which is not even worth Rs 100 now and at that time paid over Rs 18 for a call (including incoming).. so should i envy the people who entered late and are getting fancy handsets for less than 5k now and have free incomings.. no i used the service at that time when many had not dreamt about it and i paid the cost for it.. today airtel is a big brand.. they were a newbee at that time...
Same applies to the DTH.. i am ready to move to IPTV.. have a 1mbps broadband.. but alas no service provider in my area(MTNL yet to implement it in all exchanges.. only few support it).. and yes my local cable wallah still exist and more than 90% of the colony ppl still see cable through him.. but yes the rest 10% enjoy viewing there...
You should fight for it.. if you are successful it will help many others.. if it helps me or not i dont care.. bcos in my scenario it was the best option and i used it...
I pay high for rented taxi even though i have a car and can travel cheap by auto.. but thats my choice.. the cabwallah doesnt force me.. its an option.. its on u .. u want to avail it or not..

Njoy!!!
Ravi

5 April 2007 at 07:17:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger vivekkedia:

Hi Manu Baabu,

I remember the hate campaign that was on when reliance came out with their 3 years lock-in mobile phone, with "free" handset, free incoming and others,the hate campaign was so bad, emails, flyers, posters but still reliance brought in competition and thus lower tarrifs and better service overall from every mobile connection providers and i am on reliance mobile phone since its inception and i am more or less happy with them...............

I think the current hate campaign against DTH with small issues being blown out of proportion ( like rain time).......... has some peculiar similarities with reliance mobile launching.

And moreover if H accord cant go in a small gulli (lane) in gurgaon/kolkata will u prefer to get M800 over H accord :-)

6 April 2007 at 11:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Vivekkedia,

First, this is not a hate campaign. This is an attempt to cause awareness about stuff that's hidden about Tata Sky.

Second, excellent point about Reliance's free handset with 3yr lock in. Tata Sky is far worse than Reliance because you get the lock-in *without* getting the equipment for free!! In fact, I raised precisely the same point in my post above. Read first para under issue#3.

Regarding rains, please point out in my post above where you think I "blew it out of proportion." If you look carefully, it's mentioned under "other issues" and I even conceded that this is a common issue with DTH everywhere. Rain disruption, whether big or small, is NOT my main issues with Tata Sky.

6 April 2007 at 13:17:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sunil:

hi manu,

the article was very informative regarding TATA Sky's DTH services. In your latest update regarding multiple TV's costing more with a Tata Sky STB,i think you have missed an important fact. The fact is that people like me, who are chennai have already been using CAS for atleast 3-4 years now and even my cable TV connection requires a STB. I cannot use a coaxial splitter without the decoder (STB) which means that it costs the same pretty much whether you use Tata SKY or any other CAS. but if i am not wrong, you can split the composite (decoded) output into atleast 2 TVs without a loss in quality. I am not sure whether it is legal or not though!

cheers
Sunil M

6 April 2007 at 18:46:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Hi Sunil,

The Cable TV comparison is for analogue cable for which there's no need for a STB.

RE: digital cable using STB, whether the decoded output from it can be split or not, I'm not sure.

I also want to clarify here that I recommend analogue cable only as a temporary measure until the issues with DTH are sorted out or until new technologies like IPTV or streaming TV services like Joost become viable.

6 April 2007 at 19:10:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sunil:

thanks for the clarification, thought as much, that you were talking about analogue cable. With respect to the temporary solution of using analogue cable TV what happens to people who want to see some of these paid channels (e.g ESPN, Star Sports etc).
Bottom line is people (those who want to access paid content) are still stuck with the same two options either go with the cable guy with an STB or DTH with STB. from my personal experience with cable STB guys is that they oscillate between worse and atrocious, neither of which is ideal. DTH is at the moment, probably a compromise solution for all those who want to get rid of this cable guy menace. A compromise because the advertised DVD quality is not clear, because nobody knows what DVD quality is, is it a visual perception or based on some standards. From the little i know on this issue, DVD quality is defined by a video bitrate of 9Mbps if MPEG 2 is the encoding standard used. (thats what you get in your DVD's and MPEG 2 Transfer Stream syntax is used for Digital Video Broadcasting DVB). CD quality audio is a further 320kbps atleast!. It would require some serious techies from Tata Sky to answer these questions.

Another interesting aspect you might want to look into is that SunTV which runs a huge CAS cartel in chennai named SCV, is taking the plunge into DTH too. Probably they too want to move away from the cable distribution model!

Sorry for the long post (probably a rant)

cheers
Sunil M

6 April 2007 at 22:09:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Sunil is right. You can connect the decoded output of STB to only one or two tvs without signal degradation. If you want to connect more tvs, then the signal must be looped - one tv output must be connected to another tv input (av or rf) Goes without saying that all tvs will show the same channel as in a show room.

For CAS area customers, STB is a must if channels other than free to air are required. STB can be rented with a deposit or purchased outright; I am not sure whether your operator will insist on bouquets and a minimum subscription period. DTH and CAS with STB will compare evenly; Sunil, will you please give an idea of the rates charged by your service provider (SCV, I suppose).

For non CAS areas, the user has a choice; he/she will definitely opt for the better option based on quality, service and cost.

As Manu said, my cable operator has approached me a with a new proposal: Digital service with 140 channels (109 video, 14 audio and 30 channels to be added shortly???) and 30 channels in RF service. Cost of STB rs. 2300. Various payment options and discounts offered. He is also offering only one bouquet. Still evasive about the subscription. In this scenario DTH is a better choice.
Manu, you are lucky to have a really good cable operator. But you are missing quality tv if you want to stick to analogue signals.

6 April 2007 at 22:49:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Sunil said, "what happens to people who want to see some of these paid channels"

Sunil, I get all the paid channels on my cable. Not sure how it is in Chennai for non-CAS cable subscribers but in rest of the country the cable operator provides all the paid content.

In fact, traditionally (and this is true worldwide) cable always gets a much larger collection of channels than DTH because the DTH player has to sign agreements with each pay channel individually to provide its content. This is one of the reasons DTH doesn't have more than 35% market share in US.

Also, to those who think the Tata Sky is "cutting edge" in technology or part of a digital revolution, it's not. The future of television is in the merging of internet and TV.

Many readers here would be surprised that the digicomp Tata Sky is selling (which is basically another version on the Digibox of BSkyB, UK) haven't changed much in the last decade or so. Just because it comes in a neat package and is followed by all the glitz doesn't mean it's superior.

6 April 2007 at 22:57:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sunil:

Sampath, thanks for the clarification. I might want to try this sometime, even if all tv's show the same programs. The legality is still in question though.

As far as the charges go, i have been one of the (un)fortunate few to have used both the CAS STB's in chennai, hathway and SCV. I used to pay 270 (3years back) to 350 (upto a year back) for SCV (http://www.sunnetwork.org/cas.htm#platinumplus)
The advantage is that i get all the free to air channels for this price.my cable guy sold his area (god knows what that means) to another guy who would only give me Hathways STB's. Hathway charged me Rs300 inclusive of the FTA channels. Hathway STB of course was giving me a signal strength of 20db which is hopeless, of course. After repeated complaints, i havent got anything rectified. Thankfully i have both STB's only on rent.

I have no other option but DTH, in spite of the pitfalls.

With regards to Manu, all i can say is that you are lucky to be getting all channels via analogue cable without CAS. if you dig up some stuff from the TRAI site, you will notice that CAS was implemented in chennai and south delhi on experimental basis while all other metros managed to get stay orders preventing the CAS implementation. This stay was lifted only from Jan 1 2007 and only in metros. Now the ppl in the metros have to make the choice, where as i was forced to make this choice a few years back. All this for an experiment :-).

DTH for all its pitfalls is here to stay. As far as the rain disturbances are concerned, there are two Dish sizes (diameter). The bigger one is more resistant to rain than the others. It must be noted that your cable operator too has a Dish to receive channels, albeit a more powerful one.

6 April 2007 at 23:39:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

sampath said: you are missing quality tv if you want to stick to analogue signals.

I've seen both while I had the connection. It was clearer for sure but I didn't notice a dramatic difference. And definitely not worth the high cost and compromises.

6 April 2007 at 23:42:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Sunil, I don't want to go off-topic here to discuss CAS as this post is on Tata Sky but on the issue of legality of multiple TVs using a cable splitter, I'd think that if you didn't sign a contract, it's most probably legal.

Of course I'm familiar with CAS implementation, which is why I said it's normal in non-CAS areas to receive all pay channels on cable.

6 April 2007 at 23:51:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sunil:

ok, sorry for the digression. just wanted to ensure that the people who read this had the entire picture.

Hopefully we will see some of the valid points that you have raised here with respect to Tata Sky being resolved.

Once again, thanks for your efforts and research on this topic it was very helpful.

7 April 2007 at 00:16:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raju:

Mr. Manu Sharma,

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your info has been crystal clear. I am with cable fellow in our area, service o.k. I speak spanish, read/write russian, little french and a few others.

Tatas not only sky but other services are also bad. Is there any way whereby I could get the foreign channels?. It helps me to maintain my command of the language.

What should I do?

Raju.

7 April 2007 at 07:34:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Raju, if all you want to practice various languages, I'd suggest getting one of those free internet streaming services. They charge a one time amount ($20-30) but there are no monthly fees and you get thousands of Free to Air channels (no pay channels though) from around the world for free.

You'll need a faster internet connection for this. 512 kbps or more.

7 April 2007 at 11:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger perspective:

look at all the answers and comments you've recieved to this!

I am very happy with the TATA Sky service and the the whatever else I've got in bargain..

I do believe that there are far many more unfair things in life which we could really be bothered about.

I still dont see what you feel is so unfair about this whole thing...

Do you know that the ONLY reason your cable operator will promote DISH TV is because he gets a cut from it? Your monthly charges will be twice as you'll pay half to your cable operator and the other half to the company?

many many such other points... my opinion: you're bothered about too small a matter... there are many more things happening around you everyday where in you're being taken advantage of and used but you're not even aware of your choices.

8 April 2007 at 16:26:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

I am very happy with the TATA Sky service...I still dont see what you feel is so unfair about this whole thing...

I don't blame you. =) This is the standard reaction I get from Tata Sky users. I responded to this in my third update, take a look. While you're at it, check the fourth one too.

Bias has a way of clouding one's judgment. 80% people who have commented are not Tata Sky users and they have thanked me for it. The other 20% are Tata Sky users have tried to justify their decision and tried to find faults with the review.

8 April 2007 at 17:45:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Oh, and about "there are far greater things wrong with the world"

Well, I'm not an activist. I was once, very briefly, not anymore. And even activists don't choose their cause, they protest about things that they see wrong around themselves and are passionate about.

I wrote about something that happened with me. I didn't go after Tata Sky out of the blue. I bought their service, found it entirely unjust and got a refund. Since I'm a blogger, so I blogged about it. What's wrong with that?

Going by the number of people who have been thankful for this review, I think I did okay.

8 April 2007 at 17:51:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Manu:

Will this affect you? I think all major towns will eventually come under CAS, because all tv broadcasters will be keen to get out of the unorganised cable operator clout, non disclosure of actual customer base and loss of revenue.
Sampath

Implement Cas in the entire metros: MSOs, LCOs to Trai and ministry

Indiantelevision.com Team

(5 April 2007 7:30 pm )
(updated 6 April 2007 8:00 am )


NEW DELHI: A consensus has emerged among all MSOs and LCOs at the first meeting between them and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that Cas should be extended to the entire areas of the three metros and notification should be issued simultaneously even if the implementation is phase-wise.

Most MSOs and LCOs wanted that the implementation should be done within the next six months, latest, so that the MSOs, LCOs as well as STB manufacturers have adequate time to get prepared well in advance and there are no hiccups, as happened in the first phase of implementation in southern parts of the three metros.

Sources said that though there have been demands also that the extension of Cas should include not just the entire areas of the metros, but adjoining areas as well, Trai reportedly held that it will first be done in the metros only.

9 April 2007 at 06:44:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Hi Sampath,

Thanks for the pointer, if it comes into effect it's not likely to affect me since adjoining areas are not covered.

Also, to contact me in the future, please email me at orangehues@gmail.com

9 April 2007 at 11:00:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Bharani:

Appreciate your review.

I am a user of tatasky for the last few months.

I am pretty happy with the service rendered. I agree that there are a few draconian clauses which you have pointed out but thats how the culture in our country has been. If you read your Loans, there are a number of them which you tend to ignore but thats how it is.

I am not saying tatasky is the best.. but to me its a better alternative to cablewala. My area even after complaining for 2 months the clarity was not rectified saying they will come and look into it and not coming at all. Switching off the connection during festival days... so on and so forth. from that point of view, yes tatasky was better for ME.



Bias has a way of clouding one's judgment. 80% people who have commented are not Tata Sky users and they have thanked me for it. The other 20% are Tata Sky users have tried to justify their decision and tried to find faults with the review.

This is uncalled for. Neither are people finding fault with your review nor have 80% thanked you. All of us are expressing our views.

9 April 2007 at 13:43:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Bharani, thanks for your comment.

Re: my comment. Well, that is the impression I have. My review on mouthshut.com has been read close to 3000 times and received the highest rating of "very useful" by 85% members. Everyone commenting here in favor of Tata Sky (and others who were too rude to make it here) have been a Tata Sky user.

9 April 2007 at 13:57:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I recently switched to Tata Sky. The reception is excellent, but only for star network. Sony is OK and entire Zee network is really poor. Also you will see that Zee network channels are placed last in the grouping. Possibly this is because of competition with Dish TV of Zee.

9 April 2007 at 17:01:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Eric Kerala:

Hey....I took the TATASKY connection. I have had a very smooth connection till now. I dont know what all problems people are talking about. Even the Sun TV channels are coming in a week or 2. I got the connection 1/2 an hour after I told them. They were very good and quick in their installation etc. Im very happy with my connection and its very clear. I would definitely recommend this connection to all the people....much much better than CABLE.

10 April 2007 at 11:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger dhanush:

I have been a TataSky user for last 7 months.
Here is my rating on TataSKy:

1.Transmission: 10/10 - u get try stereophonic audio which I decode to DolbyProLogic2 thru my Onkyo reciever. It gives better audio than mp3s. Video transmission is almost dvd like.

2.Reliability : 10/10 - absolutely no issues till now ..even during the rains.

3.Customer support : 8/10 - much better than the customer support of any other indian service provider..not just DTH.

4.Cost : 7/10 - I used to pay 250 rs for 60 channels out of which only 30 were watchable, transmission for the rest 30 was pedestrian. Plus, had to deal with rogues and street rowdies who operated the cable service.

Couple of points for Manu :

1.what do u do with the STB when u disconnect the service? I dont think any one here in india , who can afford TataSky, will bother about retaining the STB when they dont have a connection.
2.Toll free numbers: welcome to India..I think u are asking 4 too much now :)
3.Privacy: Yeah...the police might arrest u after getting a underhand tipoff from a tatasky employee that u watched Baywatch in the night after ur wife slept ! Arent u being too cynical here?
4.1000 rupees for relocation: They are providing a service..not a charity. The amount they are charging is already low for the quality of service they are providing.

10 April 2007 at 13:02:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Dhanush, I've responded to all the points you raised somewhere in the 130 or so comments above. Please read through them.

10 April 2007 at 13:07:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Sampath:

Manu:
You must be aware of the ongoing fight between tatasky and suntv. The latter is not willing to share its channels despite TDSAT orders; I think they will delay sharing till they get their own DTH platform. Suntv is owned by Kalanidhi Maran brother of minister Dayanidhi Maran. Given below is an excerpt from the tdsat order.
********************************
The tribunal had issued an interim order on 19 March, saying Sun TV
must stream the signals on the basis sought for and since the
determination of price per channel has not been done by Trai, the
court asked Sun in the interim to give the signals at 50 per cent of
the price it charges cable operators.

TDSAT had discussed the issue of price at length, saying that cable TV (in non-Cas areas) is not an addressable system an under - declaration is massive, but DTH is addressable and broadcasters would get to know 100 per cent of who is viewing their channels.

On that ground, TDSAT felt that the charges should be much less for
DTH than what the high price the broadcaster charges the cable
operators to offset their losses, and had asked Trai to state what it
intended to do about controlling tariff on the DTH platform.

In the meanwhile, TDSAT had said that till Trai files its reply on
tariff, Sun may be asked to charge at 50 per cent of what it charges
cable operators.
*******************************
Tdsat's observation of massive under-declaration by cable operators in non-cas areas is significant. There will be pressure from all to switch over to cas for pay channels. This is a healthy trend as all users will benefit from lower tariff.

11 April 2007 at 22:20:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

In other news, MTNL is all set to roll out High Definition Television (HDTV) over its IPTV platform to users in Mumbai and Delhi. While BSNL has its own plans for a national launch of IPTV which is currently under test run in Pune.

You get a bunch of advanced features on IPTV such as time-shifted TV (get your shows recorded to view them later), video on demand and video calling - all of which are already offered by MTNL. Not only is it cheaper compared to DTH but another unique feature of IPTV is that some providers let you access IPTV over the computer bypassing the need to have a STB at all.

11 April 2007 at 22:47:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Sampath:

Thanks Manu. IPTV is another potential mire and one has to step in carefully. Despite dense internet penetration in europe, usa and asia, iptv is still has a very low share. Now, it has to compete with other technologies for market share. Someone still has to purchase content from producers and offer them on the net as a value added service.

In Maharashtra, BSNL the tariff is not competetive. Installation 600, STB 3950, Basic package 250 for 99 channels + tax + 45 entertainment tax. VOD packs are extra 50-75 per movie. What is not clear is whether internet installation is additional to this and whether a separate modem is necessary. Anyway, I am waiting for more than 2 years for internet connection. In case of MTNL, the rates are installation 999, basic package 199 for 100 channels. As both have tied with private content providers, revenue sharing is till a mystery. How does BSNL get its revenue? Of course, you have to subscribe for an internet package as well.
Your blog has been very useful to understand the issues involved. Well done.
Sampath

12 April 2007 at 10:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

The comparison with the cable guy is a farce.

The cable guys consistently undershow their subscriber base - their usual report is 20% of the actual. There is no way to monitor this. This is why cable operators were so opposed to CAS - using the set-top box means that the content provider can track how many users are being supplied.

Manu's entire computation of how Tata Sky is more expensive in the long run is based on the fact that the cable operator is dishonest - whereas there is no possibility of cheating with Tata Sky. You deal with the content provider directly.

Just compute the cost of having cable with CAS, and running it with a set-top box for each TV, and see how much it works out to be. Sheesh, somebody puts in place a system which stop people from stealing signals, and everybody cries "Unfair!"

As to the fact that the Tata Sky guys take the dish away - they never charged you for the dish, did they? So why shouldn't they take away the dish? Anyway, what will you do with the dish once you have canceled the subscription?

As for them taking away the DIGICARD, leaving the set-top box unusable - I guess you do not know about the service provider model of revenue at all. In this model, you are locked onto a service provider until you decide to change operators and then you have to upgrade your equipment as well. Ah, well, you can hack stuff and get your Tata Sky STB working with DTH, but strictly speaking, this is illegal to do.

12 April 2007 at 11:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

The point which says you have to always recharge for Rs.550 is wrong.

I registered myself at their website today as a subsciber. They allow you to recharge your account for any amount between Re.1 to Rs.9999 through credit card / bank account. If you already have bought a recharge voucher like prepaid mobile cards, you can enter that number also online and recharge the account.

12 April 2007 at 12:20:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Sampath, it's early days for IPTV to compare cost or market share. When DTH launched the subscription was Rs.500 and STB around 7000-8000. And as to DTH market share, it's still around 35% in US.

As to bundling IPTV with broadband, well in a few years it'll be hard to find a house in urban India without a computer and internet connection.

12 April 2007 at 12:42:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

To the anonymous above, the comparison is for COST of service of analogue cable. If you find something wrong in the calculations, please point it out and I'll correct it.

Re: Tata Sky taking dish way, I've made it clear a number of times what the issue is. It's about ownership. They hide the fact prior to the sales that the dish is theirs. And think a little deeper why have they structured the plan this way? Here's a hint to the clueless - it's because they do not want you to make use of their Digicomp for any other service. It's a obviously a restrictive practice designed to exploit.

Regarding recharge, they have just this month (4th April) started to allow users to recharge on their website. Still, most people will continue to use coupons and there is no recharge coupon for Rs.300 yet.

12 April 2007 at 12:56:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Laxmi:

Sharma Ji, I really (read infinite times) appreciate your effort in putting the things to gether.

14 April 2007 at 10:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Laxmi, you're welcome.

14 April 2007 at 11:21:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

great blog, we need more "aware customers" as manu. Thanks a lot for taking the effort.

16 April 2007 at 03:33:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Excellent work. I wish every customer took the pain to go through what he/she signs for and what is his/her entitlement. An eyeopener. I have often signed those forms without ever reading them fully. It is mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, they take care to print them so small that one would not like to read them, the second, I must admit, the carelessness.

Your experience is an eye-opener for me. I think I have learnt a lesson.

Further, your efforts to bring out the hidden conditions is really worth appreciating. I wish you good luck.

Regards

KGM Prasad

16 April 2007 at 13:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thank you, Prasad.

16 April 2007 at 13:52:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger viswanath:

Hi,
Very nice analysis. I particularly like the cost analysis that u made.

16 April 2007 at 14:29:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Jey:

Dear Manu,
thanks for your writting, which is very much usefull, eventhough many of us aware you are the one bring it to for discussion and it will create awareness among users. I feel not only the tatasky many of service provider doing the same since there is no effective govt body or laws into the place. in my place( chennai) cable wala too acting like monopoly, if he disconnect i can't there is no other optiong for viewing channels. Cablewsala's are just horrible and thats the main factor many opting tatasky irrespective of fact of your views.

16 April 2007 at 14:41:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

The Local cable operator has to adjust the frequency . So when u have more than 1 tv, he charges more. 50% for every other connection in case of my cable walla, I have 4 tvs in my premises.

16 April 2007 at 20:46:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

That's completely incorrect. They don't have to change anything. They have no control over individual connections in analogue cable. This is what they tell you to make the extra buck. All you need is a single connection and a 4-way RF splitter.

16 April 2007 at 22:17:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Well,thanks for bringing these truths about Tatasky.I have just taken it 2 days ago.But you see we don't have a alternative dishtv is trash.Cable TV has terrible quality.So we need some better stuff.Till we get an alternative we have no choice.

17 April 2007 at 12:22:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger arunvijayan:

Really it is bad? Please vote against here then.

http://www.mymuv.com/muv/details/412

17 April 2007 at 15:30:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

dispute between sun network and tata sky
" tata sky wants to pay SUN per channel rate( but wants to charge its customers per bouquet) where as sun wants Rs 85 per entire bauquet" tata wants to pick and choose"
this shows the duplicity of tata sky.
TDSAT abd TRAI clealry ruled that customers should be allowed to choose channels and there shound be no bunching of channels" if at all there is bunching the disount should not exceed 5% over a customer choosing individual channels" but none of the service providers follow this rule. they blatently violate this.
regarding the issue of cable guy quoting under subscription " it is more an argument used by broadcaster than a pure fact. there is no way undersubscription is 90% as is made out to be.
most of the boradcasters themselves are MSO's(hathway .star owned partly) SCV by SUn network, citi by zee
ok even if one agrees that there is huge undersubscription why cant tata sky and dish price it competetively and wean away all customers? especially here is there is no underscription.
when a channel is pay channel why there should be ad's there?iam already paying to watch the content. infact there are more ads in pay channels than free channels.
TATA SKy did not share its feed with dish till its service started where as it wants sun channels. ( if u do some thing it is ok if others do the same i will go to court- tata sky motto)
in south there is no way any DTH will progress till u get sun channels( there is monopoly like as all popular channels in tamil/telugu/kannada are with sun.
it is star which sabotaged CAS not cable guys. they wanted it as it will show the true colors of broadcasters by nailing their lie about undersubscription. ZEE wanted CAS. Star sabotaged it because none will take DTH later( 2003 to 2006 when DTH launched) some one quoted indiatelevision website. kindly go through it on TRAI ruling. it clealr shows cable guys even wnet to court for CAS.

17 April 2007 at 15:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Bharti Airtel is coming as third player in market soon.. here is the link


http://broadbandblog.in/321/back-to-telecom-is-bharti-planning-dth-foray/

17 April 2007 at 15:47:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

The above link points a two year old story, it's well known by now that Bharti is entering DTH. However, Reliance Bluemagic is expected to beat them to it. They are expected to launch their service before the year end according to a HT story in Feb (link no longer working).

17 April 2007 at 17:41:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

Dear Manu,

Firstly thank you for the detailed writeups.

Frankly speaking these points highlighted by you will be seen in different ways by different individuals.

As a user of Tata Sky since their launch, I have never experienced any troubles with their service.

I believe that any fauls in the reception or sound quality can be removed by placing the dish in the correct position.

As for the point on free to air channels - its the same with cable tv too. Or is it that your cable operator is cutting off all channels to your house leaving DD to run if you default on payments?
You know as well as I do that this is not possible. And why default on payments in the first place?

The STB is yours - you have paid for it - it will not be removed on disconnection.

If you look at services with this attitude, then you will never be satisfied.

18 April 2007 at 09:52:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

FTA channels are within my right because I've paid for the hardware that should be able to get them.

STB is useless without the digicard and the dish.

There are plenty of services out there that do respect my rights that I mentioned above.

18 April 2007 at 10:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger P.K.Sundar:

Wake up Mr.Sharma, wake up guys. This is a reality check for all those who talk about ‘rights’. Does that word exist in India? But before I launch into what I have to say, let me make a few things clear.
1. I am not trying to hold a brief for Tatasky. But I must say that the quality of transmission is excellent. Rain outage is a problem with Ku Band transmission but yes, Tatasky should inform customers. It is very irritating to see Tatasky announcing addition of new channels with lot of fanfare but deletion of channels is done quietly and no explanations offered.
2. I am not someone who takes things lying down and I fight for my rights even though I end up losing most of the time.
Why are you guys cribbing about violation of your rights by Tatasky? Did you have any choice of what you want to watch when DD rammed crappy programmes down our throats? What about the response from cable operators after the smaller companies were gobbled up by Siticable and Incable? Were you not subjected to the same kind of autocracy and were you not at the mercy of these monsters? You could have screamed to your heart’s content without shaking even a leaf.
Isn’t that the case with most things in India? I can occupy the entire cyberspace with examples but let me quote three recent real life examples.
1. I have not been getting bills from BSNL for my new WLL connection for nearly a year now. Short of writing to the Minister, I have done everything including complaining to a Consumer Court. Nothing has happened. What is my right?
2. I bought a new Onida TV and noticed a hum from the speakers when I connect the satellite receiver or any other gadgets to the AV sockets. A technician was sent after five months. First he insisted that the fault was with the receiver and after I proved that it is not, wanted to take away the chassis which would take a minimum of two weeks to be returned. The company which boasts of ‘nothing but the truth’ refuses to face the truth as all complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Rights?
3. Worldspace satellite radio is supposed to send a monthly magazine to the subscribers. It has been 10 months since I started subscribing but have received only one issue so far. After countless calls and e-mails to the local admin, I have even complained to Worldspace International but all I get is a standard reply; perhaps like the “send form A to the SOB” joke. There is so much to hear but all I hear is silence.
The point I am trying to make is, in a country like India where grievance redressal mechanism is non-existent, we have to lump everything that is rammed down our throat. Why create such a ruckus over Tatasky taking away a Rs.300 antennae?
Rights? Why don’t you try telling that to
- thousands languishing in our jails without trial
- thousands waiting for compensation after Bhopal tragedy
- thousands waiting for justice after anti-sikh riots, which was perpetrated by the ruling party
- thousands thrown out of their homes by the Tehri Dam
- thousands unable to find admission into colleges of their choice even after scoring 90% or more because they were born in “forward class”.

18 April 2007 at 13:30:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

P.K.Sundar said: "Why create such a ruckus over Tatasky taking away a Rs.300 antennae?"

P.K., if you find this post pointless, you are most welcome to ignore it and continue with your life.

18 April 2007 at 13:36:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

So, basically, you are listing what you feel should be your rights.

And regarding the STB, thats exactly what someone else has pointed out earlier - its useless without the dish - so what is the point in you complaining that Tata take away the STB on disconnection? And its not happening in any case - its yours to keep - remember that was the complaint listed by you.

Secondly which DTH provider would provide anybody with the facility to view third party services?? No one. So thats not a valid point.

if you wish to 'educate' people keeping your individual utopian values as the base, then its not going to work.

As i have pointed out personal opinions arise out of individual interactions with the product, situation or individual. Each one has his or her own opinion based on what they have experienced.

If you are still expecting service providers to adhere to your utopian expactations - so be it.

18 April 2007 at 16:40:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Raja, please point out which is these expectations is "utopian" in your view and why.

Please also explain how did such a large number of people (88%) on mouthshut.com gave my review their highest rating "very useful" if it's only my personal fantasy.

18 April 2007 at 17:31:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Anoop:

I bought tata sky last week, excellent quality pictures. I dont care about the h/w locks. But on rainy days the reception is poor or unavailable. So if you are in a rainy area dont go for it.

19 April 2007 at 11:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous viewer irritated by 8 digit number:

Tata sky irritates viewers by displaying 8 digit number every 15 minutes.

I suggest no one to buy it until they reduce its frequency.

19 April 2007 at 13:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Raja: What we express here ...of course no doubt - are our own views coming out of our experiences. Point here is, how others subscribe to it or value it!!!!! That’s how general opinion about a product gets formed!!!!

Quick search on TataSky over various blogs and mouth-shout would make anyone to think twice before deciding on TataSky!!!

Of course every product comes with baggage! But in case of TataSky overall message seems to be only baggage has arrived!!!!!

-----------------------------------
P.K.Sundar: So.. You have faced these issues in other context - BSNL or World-space satellite or Onida TV.....Why don’t you make use of bolger to voice it out?

You not being able to get your rights in some other context has no bearing on whether I should talk about issues that I am facing with TataSky. Don’t mix your frustration with views about TataSky being expressed in this blog!

At least Mr. Sharma has put in effort to bring out some of the facts. At least it helps lot many out there in making a decision - and not your frustration!

19 April 2007 at 14:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Very well said, thanks anonymous.

19 April 2007 at 14:43:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger P.K.Sundar:

Both Manu Sharma and Anonymous above have missed my point completely. I am not trying to take out my frustration by supporting Tatasky. I am merely pointing out that consumer rights in India is non-existant. There are hundreds of products which doesn't give any such rights to the consumer and so why highlight a product which is working excellently. The biggest consumer major in the country, Hindudtan Lever admitted in court that their detergent 'Wheel' did not contain lime drops as claimed by their ads. How many people were duped for how long? I did not hear Mr.Sharma screaming for violation of his rights nor have I read his blog proclaiming boycott of HL's products. I am reiterating, why don't you cry foul about products which don't give you any right at all and not target a service which scores a perfect ten.

21 April 2007 at 20:34:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

I am merely pointing out that consumer rights in India is non-existant.

This is ridiculous. What you're saying that just because these violations are widespread, there's no point in protesting against one particular case? Great.

I did not hear Mr.Sharma screaming for violation of his rights nor have I read his blog proclaiming boycott of HL's products.

This is not a consumer rights blog nor am I a consumer activist. I merely protested against a personal experience which I found unjust. I'm not claiming to cleanse the society of all its evils that I need to begin with the highest priority issue.

Statistics suggest a large majority have found this extremely useful.

21 April 2007 at 20:56:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Right from day one, Manu Sharma has been consistent and focussed. He has a point and has expressed it well. He is doing a good job by creating consumer awareness.

21 April 2007 at 21:34:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thank you, Sampath. Coming from you, I really appreciate the comment.

21 April 2007 at 21:38:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger mythili:

Mr.Sundar is right. I think Mr.Sharma is over reacting. It is much ado about nothing. Storm in a tea cup. The picture quality in Tatasky is out of this world and features like electronic prog.guide and interactive cameras are wonderful innovations never heard before in India. That the dish is owned by the company is not a very strong negative point because we never buy anything with the intention to stop using it after some time. If the buyer opts to surrender the service after two or three years, the cost of the dish is going to get spread over that period. It is worth paying that much more for the kind of quality pictures we get and without having to face the hassles of the cable guy. So anonymous’ comments that Mr.Sharma’s blog provides useful info’is not correct. He is actually misleading readers into not taking the correct decision. Compared to Dishtv, Tatasky is a million times better. Probably people like Mr. Sharma should focus their energy into improving a poor service rather than condemning a good service that too for a trivial reason.

22 April 2007 at 11:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Mythili said:
I think Mr.Sharma is over reacting. It is much ado about nothing. [...] The picture quality in Tatasky is out of this world...

So you're saying that nothing else matters? How a company hides information, designs their payment mechanism and deceives users is of no relevance as long as the product quality is satisfactory?

That's a bit like saying that if a restaurant is funded by terrorists, you'll still have dinner there as long as the food tastes great!! So what, if innocent people are being killed by their owners. Right?

Wake up people! Look beyond the obvious. See through the bigger picture. Demand what you deserve.

22 April 2007 at 12:24:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

Maithiliji and others:

I am a Tatasky subscriber for the past 8 months and I am very happy with the picture quality, reliability and service (i am lucky since none was needed). But Manu Sharma's issues have nothing to do with the above. His complaints are valid, even though most of us are not affected by them.
1. Propriety STB: Extend this to other products/services- cell phone, land line phone, TV, computer, laptop etc. What will be your reaction when you have to throw your old cell or computer when you opt for a new service provider. There is now a strong demand to retain your mobile number when you change the operator. STB must be compatible for all operators.
2. No freedom to select channels, both free and paid. This is definitely against the spirit of TDSAT policy.
3. Buyers are not explicitly told/warned by the dealers about additional installation costs in case of shifting. It is a smart sale, but not an ethical one.

May be, we have little control over Tatasky on these issues, but they are relevant and important to some customers. I am sure Tatasky will change its policy and practices when it faces fair competition.

22 April 2007 at 22:14:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

My dear Manu, thats exactly what I am trying to make u understand - firstly your "rights" are pertaining to what u feel u shud be getting from Tata. Expalin why Tata or anyone for that matter shud give u these "rights"!

What hv u purchased the DTH for? Watching television channels, or for doing something else?

As for the comments on Mouthshut.com, they are the personal views of people who agree with u so have posted in ur favor -simple explanation.

I am a person who disagrees with u based on my experience, and so am writing against what u have written.

I feel that u have this blog on simply to gather more comments from people who side with ur point of view.

U r very happy when people agree with what u say, but have problems the moment someone comes out with anything that goes against what u have written.

Sad.

23 April 2007 at 09:35:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Raja, if you read though the comments you'll see that I've happily engaged in discussions with people expressing both sides. (just the fact that I allowed your post should indicate something)

I'll be happy to engage with you as well when you offer any substantiative arguments. However, I've no intention to respond to strawman arguments.

23 April 2007 at 09:59:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

This article is very good.
Thank you for the informations.

After reading this no one will take these private channels.

john,
kerala, india.

23 April 2007 at 10:56:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous ravi:

Hi!
it is like one monopoly replaced by a bigger monopoly. earlier we were all at the mercy of cable operators who did not allow us to have a choice. there are no two cable guys in any area. this is in total contrast to all other products and services in india where even though consumer rights are not protected, he is left with choice. if u don't like some thing u leave that product or service and choose some thing else. but it is not the case with cable. now we have DTH which actually has the option but the service providers wants you to be their slave just take what he gives you like the local cable guy. if you don't like it shell out another 4000 for freedom from this guy to another. so what this implies is operators don't want you to have the freedom to choose. if consumer has the choice he will ditch the operator. to avoid this operator has to be on his toes to meet consumer expectations. you lock consumer you don't have to struggle. sit and exploit. dish out what you have . don't make attempts to improve.
some one said the quality is good. ok fine but what about the channels offered? are we getting same channels which we are getting from old cable guy? BIG NO. what is use of some new junk channels.
what is the cost per month for this service? 50% more than what one is paying now. so we get less than 50% of what we are already getting ( with around 70-80% quality) but at more than 50% cost. IS this a good bargain for consumer? Again BIG NO. that is the reason why penetration levels of DTH is very low when one compares the total cable population( take conversion % it is less than 10%)even after three years of operation. majority of the people are willing to be with cable guy as they find it a better proposition. during the initial days of DTH cable guys were little apprehensive and tried to improve the service levels. now they became relaxed once the modus operandi of DTH operators became clear.

23 April 2007 at 13:44:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

The people who say they have no problems and that they dont care about their so called rights. After dealling with americans who are all individuals, I can say that you will care one day when it happens to you. In the US, gangs or the Police or the Governmenet can come and trash your neighhour but you dont care because you have rights and you havw demands. Amazes me to see so many people getting trashed by one power after another and no one lifting a hand or even joining in the fun. Which is why, when you get weak, you are D.E.A.D.... You will never see protests where someone on a bus got beatten up by the conductor so everyoen joins in the ban and take to the streets to protest. After all, you will never get beatten by the conductor right? India was different and it si annoying as hell to see so many protests affecting your life when it dont even concern you... But then again, nothing should concern you.. After all, you have to catch the next serial in crystal klear stereophonic 3d vision and no time to care about anyone else's problems...

23 April 2007 at 14:06:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Very well said... this is precisely my point to those who say reception-is-great-and-nothing-else-matters.

23 April 2007 at 14:13:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

Correct, and the point to ponder on is who fits the strawman description the best?

23 April 2007 at 17:06:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

BTW, S/w provided by NDS... not OpenTV

23 April 2007 at 18:48:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Thanks for the tip. Updated.

23 April 2007 at 20:38:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Fine you guys are just simple bunch of morons!
Who does have a time for spending company provided time to write big big blog...!
let me start like this being politically correct I do have vested interests in Tata Sky and for very long have been associated with technology and marketing (will not brag that the best in industry or even in city) but as a reasonable person !
Now what is anyone’s problem if company like Tata Sky is trying to make money, everywhere on the earth companies try all the possible ways to keep the customer locked into there systems (anyway how many of you have ever bothered that who has put the money to have a satellite launched and aggressively competing for transponders and paying huge money to the government obviously not any one of you who is paying 300 a month and installation charges (don’t you pay electric city and water charges, monthly bill and installation) so what’s new ..!
Technology front yes it’s superior and will be better with time (PVRs and other stuff), the technology companies behind it are spending million of dollar to keep it hack proof (when Microsoft gets invaded every day), they are reaching to the place which your dear government abandoned (don’t sell me that govt. is promoting DDnet very aggressively with there third rated entertainment) why do you think these companies are creating distribution channel and making inroads to tier 3 towns and villages …why …simple reason money
Now bit more tech part as of now no such technology existed which can target the ads for peoples interest (at least on TV front), no HLL is not going to create a special add of the scented mouth fresheners which you like (come on you are not all that important), aren’t you the same people who fill there preferences on the shopping malls for exchange of sample shampoo and newly launched health drink…
GSM phone is good but what about CDMA aren’t you locked with companies when you buy phone (what about apple iPOD and iTunes or whole of Mac series) what about
Bharat gas and there,

So bottom line according to me is, yes be a smart buyer, buy something which you like and enjoy do not get into the hassle of who is making money and who is not because I bet you won’t go to save a cash starved company which can’t provide you good service!!!

D;;

24 April 2007 at 11:08:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Ah, always like good criticism. Always hate armchair critics. Ok, here's my response...

Fine you guys are just simple bunch of morons!
I'd have rejected a comment that begins with an insult had it not been for your arguments later. So I suggest you keep your tone in check.

I do have vested interests in Tata Sky and for very long have been associated...
Thanks for the disclaimer. Hopefully readers will keep this in mind.

Now what is anyone’s problem if company like Tata Sky is trying to make money
This is not about them making money. I'm not an industrialist who would get envious of a new emerging company. This is about them making money in unethical ways.

everywhere on the earth companies...
This isn't also about what goes on everywhere. Lot of stuff does. This is about here and now and in this specific case. Don't justify what Tata Sky does with what happens elsewhere.

how many of you have ever bothered that who has put the money to have a satellite launched...
Completely irrelevant point again. So, if a company throws millions into an opportunity, it can justify fleecing it from consumers later?

Technology front yes it’s superior and will be better with time
That's arguable. Superior from analogue cable, yes. Superior from digital cable & CAS, most likely not. State of the art MPEG 4 HDTV transmission, certainly not.

technology companies...spending million of dollars...creating distribution channel and making inroads
You're going into topics that this post was never about. To remind you, it's about how Tata Sky deceives consumers in various ways. Not about their distribution channels.

as of now no such technology existed which can target the ads for peoples interest
You might have heard of IPTV, Joost? Anyway, I have nothing against targeted ads as long as people know at what cost they come and are allowed to choose and profit from it. Currently, that's not true.

aren’t you the same people who fill there preferences on the shopping malls
You think that's true about everyone? Here's one thing that is indeed true about every person reading this...we are completely fed up with the incessant tele-marketing calls we get these days. That's why we're setting up a no calls registry.

GSM phone is good but what about CDMA aren’t you locked with companies when you buy phone
Looks like you haven't read the post carefully or gone through the comments. YES, we get locked into CDMA phone contracts but we also get the instrument for FREE. As I said in the post, I have no problem signing the contract for a limited period if I get STB for free and my other rights are respected. You want to sell me an expensive device AND lock me into using only your service? Not happening.

So bottom line according to me is...
I don't know what are the argument you've offered in defense of Tata Sky to reach a conclusion. You've gone on without addressing the three main issues highlighted in this post. Maybe you'll post a rejoinder. I'm eager to hear from you. If possible, please sign with your real name this time.

24 April 2007 at 12:09:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Tracey:

Dear Manu,

This is a good study that you have done for TATA SKY. I found it quite interesting barring some points. I would like to know if you have done such case studies for any other company or is TATA SKY the only lucky one.

BTW i also have a TATA SKY connection at home and touch wood have not faced any problem so far !!!

24 April 2007 at 14:43:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Tracey, thanks for your comments. No, I haven't reviewed another product/ service in as much detail. I often write on issues to do with design and interfaces. Go through the blog archives (links at bottom) to see my past posts.

Apart from this I run a discussion list on climate change and energy future called Green-India.

24 April 2007 at 14:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

Manu I am still waiting for the replies to my posts to u.

01.
“I believe that any fauls in the reception or sound quality can be removed by placing the dish in the correct position.

As for the point on free to air channels - its the same with cable tv too. Or is it that your cable operator is cutting off all channels to your house leaving DD to run if you default on payments?
You know as well as I do that this is not possible. And why default on payments in the first place?

The STB is yours - you have paid for it - it will not be removed on disconnection.”


02.
“So, basically, you are listing what you feel should be your rights.

And regarding the STB, thats exactly what someone else has pointed out earlier - its useless without the dish - so what is the point in you complaining that Tata take away the STB on disconnection? And its not happening in any case - its yours to keep - remember that was the complaint listed by you.

Secondly which DTH provider would provide anybody with the facility to view third party services?? No one. So thats not a valid point.”


03.
“Firstly your "rights" are pertaining to what u feel u shud be getting from Tata. Expalin why Tata or anyone for that matter shud give u these "rights"!

What hv u purchased the DTH for? Watching television channels, or for doing something else?”

25 April 2007 at 09:33:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Raja:

Friends, this blog is nothing but the list of "wants" of an individual, and that has now expanded into a chain of sorts.

You are talking about your "rights". Who has awarded them to you? Tata Sky? Or the Government?

The answer is - no one! Tata Sky or any other service is governed by the rules laid out by the service provider.

You can complain about these points which you call your "rights" only if they had been granted to you initially, and then were taken away.

In this case nothing of that sort has happened. So you are complaining about not getting something that was never given to you in the first place.

That is why your wishes are utopian.

The fine print of rules and services on offer is meant to be read, not to be overlooked, and thats what you have done. So what is the big idea in scripting a blog after making the mistake??

It is similar to me starting a blog, saying i have every right to marry Aishwarya Rai, and since I wasnt given a chance to do so, she has to be tarnished and tainted. And in defense I will quote the chapter of the constitution, declaring equal civil rights to all citizens of this country.

Time and again have I falsified many of your "warnings" and "claims" about the service, but you have never responded.

Your response have remained ambiguous to say the least, and the final one was the attempt to make the back door entry by calling me a strawman.

You have never engaged in any kind of "healthy" dialogues with any of the individuals who have pointed out your flaws, intead you have only stressed that what you are saying is correct.

your wah wahs and thank yous and oh so goody goodies are only for those who appreciate your "findings".

So at best this blog is just an attemp to mislead people, keeping individual wants as the base.

25 April 2007 at 09:55:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Hi Manu,

Can you tell me which service should I go for dishtv/ tatasky/ IPTV or digital cable ?


I am in a area where CAS will get implemented in few months.

you seem to champion this topic. pls advice ?

25 April 2007 at 11:50:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Anonymous, I've laid the facts about Tata Sky on the table, you make your own decision. I don't really know as much about CAS, Dish and IPTV to give informed advice. I suggest you do your research. Read up on mouthshut and broadband forum before you decide.

25 April 2007 at 11:57:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

with your analysis i am getting a sense that I should not go for Tatasky coz they have taken you and many others for a ride. any particular reason why you are so vindictive? Curious to know coz many people seem to belive you are making mountain out of mole.

25 April 2007 at 16:33:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous ravi:

Mr Raja
this is regarding your query " which rule was violated by TATA SKy"
neither TATA SKY not Dish Tv is obeying the TRAI order that there should be bunching of channels and that customer should be given choice to choose channels
regarding rights" who is TATA SKY to give rights? as per constitution every indian has right to privacy. tata sky or others are violating this right. did tata sky agree to you selling the info you are privy as bussiness partner? in the DTH agrement between customer and tata sky " customer will pay to watch and tata sky charges customer to provide the same" then why tata sky or other service provider should collect personal information about customer. even if tata sky is going to use it only for their internal use they should pay for the info. why should it get it free from customers?
who has given you the right to call persons in this blog as morons?
if the questions raised in the blog are wrong why did tata sky made the personal information collection optional?
it is the same way banks are arguing regarding the telemarketing calls about credit cards, loans. if the same thing is done by SKY (TATA partner)in USA or UK you end up paying millions as compensation for invading privacy. companies don't want customers educated so that they can be cheated. it is the same way some new generation banks argue when they sell even bank a/c balance to tele marketers

25 April 2007 at 16:52:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Parimala:

Unfortunate that I didn't find this article before going in for Tata SKy.

On March 31, Tata Sky decided in a meeting to not show 13 Zee channels (as per newspaper report of April 21) and when I subscribed to Tata Sky on April 4 this fact was not mentioned.Even today their site mentions that all these channels are available. This is cheating of the first order.

25 April 2007 at 16:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Anonymous said: "any particular reason why you are so vindictive?"
Hi Anonymous, I have no personal animosity with Tata Sky whatsoever. I would gladly recommend their service if they change their service to address the three issues I raised.

Parimala said: "On March 31, Tata Sky decided in a meeting to not show 13 Zee channels"
Parimala, is this really true? They removed all 13 channels without explanation? Wow. This would never happen with Cable TV.

25 April 2007 at 18:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Sampath:

I understan Tatasky was forced to take the full bouquet of 32 channels from Zee for about Rs. 150, whereas they wanted only 19 channels. Zee refused to split the bouquet. Now (March 07) TDSAT has ruled that tata sky can choose what they want. They have opted for 19 zee channels for about rs. 89. Tatasky makes a tomtom when it adds channels but is radiantly silent when channels are dropped. It has also removed 2 neo sports channels. They mus stop claiming that they offer over 100 channels. Now only 91.

As for now, TDSAT does not control prices of DTH channels to customers. They want a decent competition to build up before intervention. Let us hope TDSAT forces tatasky to offer choices to customers.

Tatasky's product is good, no doubt, the best in Indian scene, but their methods leave a lot to be desired.

Those who pounce on Manu, must keep this in mind. We do not want benevolent dictators also.
Sampath

26 April 2007 at 07:51:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

I have just updated the post to mention the removal of Zee channels. Jump to the update.

26 April 2007 at 13:37:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Hi,
In fact, I feel to have been cheated by tata sky, when they removed Zee classic. Tell me how I can fight for my refund for the Hardware and the 1 year subscription charges.

Nis.

26 April 2007 at 15:10:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Nis,

That's very good. I suggest you take them to consumer court or file a complaint with MRTP commission.

As I said previously... "the good thing about filing a case under MRTP commission is that if your complaint is accepted, they do all the leg work. They'll appoint an advocate who will fight the case in the courts (you will not be required to attend). All you have to do is to write a simple letter and furnish the required documents."

26 April 2007 at 15:20:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous RAKESH TRIKHA(rakeshtrikha@yahoo.com):

So in the circumstances cited above I want to submit as under
1. That as I already submitted that the quality of Zee Network channels is comparatively weak and not at all near to DVD quality as claimed by the company. I feel that I was mislead by your advertisement and preferred Tata sky over my existing cable TV and Dish TV(of zee network).
2.that In spite of 6 visits by your engineer that quality has not improved and your engineers have admitted that the quality is poor for these channels and can not be improved ( excuse of area Problem is totally wrong)
3. that Since poor quality is an inherited problem from satellite itself and advertising and claiming DVD quality of all channels is totally false and hence it is illegal trade practice on part of the Tata sky.

26 April 2007 at 16:04:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

accepted TATASKY is BAD BUT DISH TV is even worse. The PIC quality is hopeless and you end up paying virtually the same price and you don't even own the IRD.

That's DTH PROVIDERS MUST sell only the SMARTCARD and 3rd party equipment should be allowed

26 April 2007 at 16:10:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger manoj:

How Much have u been paid by Dish Tv to write such an Article??OR r u one of them???

U took pain to write such an article... Great

26 April 2007 at 16:52:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Pls remove this blog as you can charged witha deliberate offense to defame some body

26 April 2007 at 17:01:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

Ok lets see the definition of defame

de·fame/dɪˈfeɪm/ [di-feym]
–verb (used with object), -famed, -fam·ing.
to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel

I'm confident that I've not written anything malicious or false. I have only pointed out the facts and nothing that's untrue. A few statements that I have found to be untrue, I've rectified in my updates. At no point in my post did I call Tata Sky names or have been particularly rude to them.

So I don't think they have a case against me. If they pursue it I'd be more than happy to fight because that would mean media publicity and that's one thing they can't afford.

Tata Sky is really lucky that no newspaper has picked up on this story yet. So I don't think they would be foolish enough to risk media exposure by charging me with defamation.

26 April 2007 at 18:52:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

Have you seen Dish Tv contract. and if u unsubscribe to DishTv can you use that Dish. no You can not
so man both are same.
Same eveil In two differnt packing.
Coke and Pepsi

26 April 2007 at 18:54:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

I'm not familiar with DishTV's service but yes it's possible that they may be equally bad. However, since I don't know the details I'm not qualified to say that.

26 April 2007 at 19:07:00 GMT+5:30 link  

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