Set-top boxes should support interoperability, recommends TRAI

Telecom regulator says DPOs should provide interoperable set-top boxes that can be used across different service providers

BestMediaInfo Bureau
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Set-top boxes should support interoperability, recommends TRAI

The TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has recommended that STBs (set-top box) in India should support interoperability. It has asked the MIB (Ministry of Information and Broadcasting) to include a clause that makes it compulsory for DPOs (distribution platform operators) to provide services through ‘interoperability’. TRAI also recommended mandatory provisioning of a USB port-based common interface for all digital television sets in India 

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“Presently the STBs deployed in the cable TV networks are non-interoperable, i.e. the same STB cannot be used interchangeably across different service providers. As far as STBs deployed by Direct to Home (DTH) players are concerned, STBs comply with licence conditions to support Common Interface (CI) module-based interoperability. The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers not only deprives the customer of the freedom to change his service provider but also creates a hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality, and the overall sector growth,” the statement read.

In its statement, the TRAI said they have been engaging with stakeholders on the issue however, there have been issues with disparate interest groups among DPO, CAS vendors, STB manufacturers and other stakeholders. It also said affordability and anti-piracy features should be given priority and this move should not cause an increase in the prices of STB. “Ensuring proper content security, strong anti-piracy features, and flexibility while keeping the STB costs reasonable are the main challenges for achieving STB interoperability,” it said.

TRAI has given a period of six months to DTH operators and DPOs to adopt DVB CI Plus 2.0 standards (with USB Cam) as per the ETSI TS 103 605 standards from the date of MIB notifications. "MIB may also coordinate with BIS so that suitable amendments are brought within this time frame," it said.

 “In this regard, TRAI had suo-motu issued the Consultation Paper on ‘Interoperability of Set Top Box’ on November 11, 2019 seeking the view/response from all the stakeholders towards identifying appropriate solutions to implement the interoperability of STBs. In response, comments from 37 stakeholders and counter-comment from one stakeholder were received. An open house discussion was conducted on January 29, 2020,” the statement added.