Cable TV

Final phase STB seeding is 35% even as deadline nears

NEW DELHI: Even as the country has set a deadline of 31 March this year for full digitisation of cable TV, a Parliamentary Committee has been told that only 35 per cent seeding of set-top boxes (P-IV) has been achieved in rural India though the Parliament was told last week that 66.79 per cent (P III & IV) seeding had been achieved in the last two phases minus Tamil Nadu.

Admitting that digitisation in the first phase is total minus Chennai, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which also examines issues relating to the information and broadcasting ministry has been told that digitisation has also not been done in one city – Coimbatore – of Phase II in view of court cases though the other 37 cities having more than one million population and spanning 14 states and one union territory had been covered.

The committee recommended that the I and B Ministry follow up the issue of financial and technical viability in rural and remote areas, promote and increase share of iCAS (Indian Conditional Access System) to leverage 'Make in India' programme, popularise Doordarshan Free Dish in small town/cities/rural and remote areas, address the legitimate concerns of domestic STB producers and rigorously pursue interoperability of STB with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The committee therefore expressed the hope that the I and B Ministry will be able to meet the targets of cable TV digitisation as almost all the pending cases have now been dismissed and there is no stay in any case except in case of Chennai and Coimbatore.

Cable TV Digitisation in Phase III and Phase IV areas was to be achieved by 31 December 2015 and 31 December 2016 respectively, now extended to 31 January 2017 and 31 March 2017.

Interoperability: TRAI working with IIT Bombay

It was told that technical interoperability, as envisaged in the existing Direct to Home Guidelines has so far not proved to be effective due to various techno-commercial issues. The TRAI has decided to collaborate on the issue of technical interoperability with the Department of Electrical Engineering of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B).

To ensure commercial interoperability TRAI has notified tariff orders and this has been challenged by a couple of DTH operators in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Arbitration Tribunal and the matter is sub judice.

The Committee was given to understand that after the roll out of iCAS in January 2016, about 10 million STBs have been installed by multi-system operators out of which about 300,000 are with iCAS, which gives a market share of about 3%.

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