Technology

DTH interoperability: Tdsat lashes out at Trai

NEW DELHI: Though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had issued a consultation paper on interoperability as early as 20 August 2010, there has been little progress since then and this has forced thousands of subscribers to stick to one DTH operator.


Taking note of this slackness on the part of both the Trai and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) has asked the Ministry to clear its stand in six months. Tdsat has been given four months to Trai to make fresh recommendations in four months, and the government will thereafter take two months to finalise its view.


Tdsat said in a recent order that all operators have been allowed to violate the DTH licensing conditions because of the government’s inaction.
 
“It must be held that the government has allowed breach of licence conditions to take place,” Tdsat said in its judgment in a case filed by a Chennai-based NGO against the Central government over non-interoperability among the DTH boxes.


Tdsat noted that the DTH licensing conditions made it mandatory for all DTH service providers to offer only those set-top boxes which were interoperable, both commercially and technically.


However, as the DTH licensing conditions are only for MPEG-2 boxes (offered by Dish TV, Tata Sky and DD Direct Plus) and not for the MPEG-4 boxes (Airtel digital TV, Reliance Big TV, Sun Direct and Videocon D2H), both the Ministry and Trai did not act and allowed Clause 7.1 of the DTH licensing conditions to be violated. 
 
Tdsat said: “It is a matter of concern that the government (I&B) took two years and four months to make its comments on the Trai recommendations on interoperability and then sent them back.”


Commenting on Trai’s role, it said: “It is difficult to comprehend that keeping in view the interest of the consumers, Trai had not been keeping a watch on the websites of the operators. The regulations having been made in this behalf way back in 2007, it was expected that steps be taken for seeing that its recommendations are implemented. We are of the opinion that Trai should be asked to do so.”


There had been sharp differences between various DTH operators on various issues including a common Open Architecture based Set Top Box to ensure technical interoperability among different operators when Trai issued its paper in August last year.
 

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