Well-informed sources say Net will use the funds raised through the capitalization process to reinforce cash-in-hand for payment of financial obligations, partially settle arrears with suppliers, and invest in new products capable of generating additional revenue. The first item on the list of new products will be digital cable, above all to prevent loss of subscribers to DTH ? especially Sky, which has the same programming line-up as Net. Digitization will pave the way to interactive services, particularly video-on-demand (VOD), which Sky and DirecTV don?t offer at present.
The digital cable project is the great white hope for suppliers in 2002. Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta are in the running to supply set-tops. Both boxes have practically the same functionality, but Motorola?s is cheaper and less graphically enhanced. Scientific-Atlanta?s box is visually more attractive and costs more. Microsoft?s role is another key variable. To date no one knows whether it will take part in the digitization process, and if so how. Market watchers believe Net wants Microsoft to supply set-top software free of charge instead of contributing to the capital increase. However, Microsoft apparently doesn?t approve of that idea. In sum, there?s considerable uncertainty about digitization but suppliers expect a launch some time later this year, possibly partial and probably in São Paulo.