Technology

Govt says STBs consume very less electricity

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has sought to allay fears that the set-top boxes (STBs) required for digital cable service will drastically increase power consumption and result in increase in electricity bills.


The I&B Ministry has denied that the STBs critical for switching to digital cable service consume 20 watts of power each. It claimed that the STB consumes only eight watts of power, which is less than what a CFL light consumes.


The ministry was responding to reports in the media suggesting power consumption by STBs is much higher than claimed by the manufacturers. The reports have come at a time when the government is pushing the industry to move at a rapid pace to meet the deadline for the first phase of digitisation in the four metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.


Power rating of cable Set Top Boxes of different makes
























STBs Make & ModelPower consumption (Watts)1
Active modeStandby mode

Den Entertainment Networks
Skyworth 700087
Skyworth 760087
Skyworth 763187

















DigiCable
Indieon LDCA 10005.44.5
Changhong C8899C07.56.9
Skyworth C371N EN108













IMCL
SD STB1210
MyBox7.56.9













Hathway Datacom
Skyworth 900087
HUMA ND-1200C155

























WWIL
Handon 1002C6.55.8
Handon 1041C6.55.8
Arion 5012S7.56.9
Changhong C8899C07.56.9
MyBox7.56.9
source: Product leaflets of manufacturers

"Recently, it has been reported in some sections of the press that digitisation of cable TV would result in huge power consumption by the Set Top Boxes (STBs). It has been wrongly informed that the cable STBs consume 20 watts of power," MIB said in a statement on Monday.
"STBs of a number of makes and models are supplied by multi-system operators (MSOs) and local cable operators (LCOs). A cable STB consumes only about 8 watts of power. This power consumption by an STB is even less than that of CFL light."


As per government estimates, around 72 per cent of cable homes have switched to digital cable in the four metros, a figure disputed by cable operators in Kolkata and Chennai. The government has mandated that the entire country should shift to digital cable by 2014.


Incidentally, a Delhi resident Rupinder Singh Sodhi has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court against the government‘s decision to compulsorily make consumers switch to digital cable. The petitioner has made the Union of India and I&B Ministry respondents in the case along with the Ministry of Power, Bureau of Energy Efficiency and industry regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).


The petitioner‘s central argument is that the government‘s decision is in violation of the Indian constitution since it takes away the right of consumers to decide which mode of service they want to opt.


It also claims that the installation of STBs will have immense implications for power consumption in India. The petitioner has said that a normal STB requires 17 watts of power and with add-on services, the electricity requirement goes up to 28 watts. The High Definition STBs with several features will consume even more power.


The petition also claims that the MSOs have asked subscribers to keep the STBs switched on at all times and to keep it connected to the network, which is necessary for upgrading the software and data in the box. This upgradation will be done at odd hours and if the STB is not on, it will not receive this upgrade/data.


The petitioner says India will have 250 million TV sets by 2015 as per the government projections and if the digitisation is successfully implemented there would be an equal number of STBs.


The petition contended that even if one STB consumes 200 units of electricity a year, it would result in an annual consumption of 50 billion units per annum and would burden consumers with an extra payout of Rs 300 billion annually towards electricity cost which would jump to Rs 425 billion per year taking into account normal inflation rate.


It also alleged that the STBs would put strain on government resources to produce extra energy.


The MIB on its part says that an STB consumes less power than other household appliances like television, fans and tube lights. TVs, fans and tube lights each consume about 60 watts of power against 8 watts consumed by an STB.


To make it easy to understand, the ministry gave an example: If a person watches TV for one hour by keeping on a fan and a tube light in the room, then the electricity consumed by these three items in one hour would be more than the power consumed by an STB kept on for 24 hours.


"In other words, an STB would consume about only one-fifth of a unit of electricity in a day against 1.5 units consumed by a fan, a TV or a tube light. Similarly a household fridge consumes on an average 4-5 units of electricity per day which is more than 20 times the power consumed by an STB in a day. Cable STBs consume very nominal electricity to the tune of 5-6 units in a month which is insignificant in comparison with the electricity consumed by other electric appliances in a house."


The ministry also harped on the benefits of digitisation. It says that digital cable will provide "superior quality of picture and sound, choice of channels from a larger bouquet, movies and games on-demand, etc".


According to a study by the United States National Resources Development Council (NRDC), STBs in the US had consumed approximately 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants.


The NRDC has also noted that the electricity required to operate all US boxes is equal to the annual household electricity consumption of the entire state of Maryland, which results in 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and costs households more than $3 billion each year.


However, the council has stated that there is great potential for improving the efficiency and reducing the cost of operating these electronics equipment.

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