Digital Set-Top Box Industry Growing Rapidly

Article excerpt

Riding on the wave of growing popularity worldwide for set-top boxes which enable television viewers to enjoy the Internet, Korean set-top box makers like Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Humax and Dae Ryung are busy meeting the rising overseas demand.

A digital set-top box enables an analog television set to become a user interface to the Internet and receive and decode digital television (DTV) broadcasts.

The VCR-sized devices are classified by the broadcasting method they receive: cable TV, satellite broadcasting or Internet TV.

In the first half of this year, sales for the major domestic set-top box makers increased between 100 percent and 600 percent from the same period last year.

Set-top boxes are expected to be a great contributor to the nation's exports, along with other products like liquid crystal displays (LCD)), as the global digital broadcasting market will keep expanding rapidly for five or more years in the future.

The domestic market is still in its nascent stages, as full-fledged services for digital broadcasting will not be started until next year, and most of the set-top box makers are focusing on overseas markets.

But the domestic market's prospects are not bad, as digital broadcasting companies are expected to lend set-top boxes to subscribers free of charge for marketing purposes. Airwave and cable TV broadcasting will be digitalized in the latter half of 2001 and in 2002, respectively.

The expansion of intelligent apartments will also activate the market, as many builders will equip every household with digital set-top boxes in the future.

Industry officials expect the number of digital set-top box manufacturers to increase from the present 30 to 100 if digital broadcasting is launched.

Domestic demand for Internet TV set-top boxes is estimated at 200,000- 600,000 units this year, 1 million next year and 2 million in 2002.

The global digital set-top box market has grown rapidly since 1998 and will likely continue to do so for a few years.

The United States and Europe already launched digital cable TV services, as well as satellite broadcasting services, triggering the full-fledged production of set-top boxes for digital cable TV broadcasting. …