TRAI recommends amendments in licensing conditions to make Set top box interoperability mandatory

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on April 11, 2020

Says standards for Digital TV sets should be amended for the same

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that all DTH and cable Set-top-boxes (STBs) provided to the customers must support interoperability and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should make requisite amendments in licensing and registrations conditions or the Cable Act to make it mandatory. The regulator has even gone a step further to recommend mandatory availability of USB port based Common Interface in all Digital TVs sets.

Through Interoperability, the same STB can be used interchangeably across different DTH or Cable TV Networks. Currently, STBs deployed by cable networks are non-interoperable. Though DTH STBs comply with the licensing conditions to support Common Interface (CI) module based interoperability, in practice even they are not readily interoperable.

"The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers not only deprives customer of the freedom to change his/her service provider but also creates a hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality and the overall sector growth," TRAI said.

In its recommendations released on Saturday, TRAI said, "Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may include suitable clause/ condition in the permission/registration/Cable TV Network Rule mandating all DPOs,( DTH as well as MSOs service providers) to compulsorily facilitate service provisioning through the interoperable STBs either provided by DPOs or procured by the consumers in the open market."

It has also recommended that the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), should make suitable amendments in specified standards for STBs. It added that DTH and MSO players should be given a time for six months to adopt "DVB CI+ 2.0 standards (with USB CAM)” in line with the ETSI standards (Europan Telecommunications Standards Institute).

"Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) in co-ordination with TRAI and Ministry of Electronics and Information & Technology (MeitY) may request BIS to amend the specifications for digital television sets to include provision of USB based Common Interface port," the broadcast and telecom regulator added.

TRAI also has suggested setting up a a co-ordination committee consisting of members of MIB, MeitY, BIS and TRAI and industry representatives to steer the implementation and adaptation of amended standards for DTH STBs, Cable STBs and digital Television sets in a time-bound manner.

Published on April 11, 2020

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