TRAI seeks views on inter-operability of cable and DTH set-top boxes

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 11, 2019

Using the same STB for different service providers will provide freedom of choice to consumers   -  THE HINDU

Believes inter-operable STBs will provide freedom of choice to consumers, create an open market and help solve problems of e-waste

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday released a consultation paper to seek views on policy formulation with regard to inter-operability of cable and DTH set-top boxes (STBs).

Consumers need to link their TVs with the STBs of a cable or DTH operator to be able to watch TV channels. However, unlike other developed markets, the same STB cannot be interchangeably used for different service providers.

“The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers has not only compromised the competition in the pay-TV market but is a major hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality, and sector growth,” the regulator stated on Monday.

TRAI believes inter-operable STBs will provide freedom of choice to consumers, create an open market and help solve the problems of e-waste.

Implementation issue

In its consultation paper, it has sought views on whether a policy should be formulated for the implementation of interoperability, separately, among DTH networks and cable networks. It further questions whether the same STB can be used interchangeably between DTH and cable platforms in the policy.

It has also sought views on whether software-based solutions will be easier to implement compared to hardware-based solutions without compromising on content security.

Given that the interoperability solutions for most STBs are implemented through a common agency (Trusted Authority), the regulator has sought views on the structure of such a body. “Should the Trusted Authority be an industry-led body or a statutory agency to carry out the mandate ?,” it asked.

Interoperability has been a contentious issue among DTH and cable operators. During the pre-consultation phase and other deliberations, players have expressed concerns over rise in costs of STBs, cost of replacements and issues on the quality of STBs, among others.

DTH players offer huge subsidies to consumers to reduce entry costs for new connections and believe that interoperable STBs won't protect their investments.

The telecom and broadcast regulator had issued a pre-consultation paper on STB interoperability in April 2016. Thereafter, a consultation note on the solution architecture developed by C-DoT for interoperable STB was issued during August 2017.

“The smart card-based solution has been successfully tested in lab conditions using separate instances of CAS developed by C-DoT. However, the field testing with third-party CAS solution is still to be conducted with different industry stakeholders,” it added.

Published on November 11, 2019

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