TRAI workshop on interoperable STBs later this month

NEW DELHI: Following the issuance of a consultation paper by it on 11 August, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has now organised a workshop on solution architecture for technical interoperable set top box on 26 September in the capital. The paper had been issued after responses to a pre-consultation paper issued on 4 April this year. 

TRAI says it had suo moto taken up the issue of STB interoperability in the broadcasting TV sector. Presently, the Distribution Platform Operator (DPO) provides STB, which is compatible with his network to provide services to a subscriber. 

Over a period of time, variety of technologies has been deployed by DPOs into the networks. It has led to a situation where STBs provided by one operator are not compatible with the system of the other operator. This impedes portability of a subscriber from one operator to another in case he wishes to do so. 

In the perspective of subscribers, provision of switch-over from one operator to another without replacing the STB is known as technical interoperability, whereby the same STB can be used by the subscriber for availing the services of any other operator after authorisation form that operator. 

Recognising the significance of choice to the subscribers to change their service provider, TRAI also approached various academia & research organisations to collaborate with them to find solutions for interoperability of STB.

In response, IIT-Bombay came onboard and has been working on the issue. IIT Bombay was independently charged with studying the feasibility of open STBs and suggest possible paths towards its implementation. This study concluded that open STBs are indeed feasible and recommended that a programme towards its implementation should be undertaken. They suggested an open STB architecture consisting of a secure communication channel between the open STB and the operator dependent  CAS module based on asymmetric cryptography. The keys for such a system are to be managed by a central trusted authority.

The telecom technology development Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) came up with a framework for interoperable STBs based on Smart Card. Approaches suggested independently by IIT Bombay, and the architecture independently developed by C-DOT have strong similarities. 

A total of 19 comments have been received.

TRAI?s objective is to chalk out a framework to facilitate consumer choice, innovation, orderly growth and healthy competition in the industry. The framework should enable an ecosystem to give the market a chance to evolve at its own pace and independently respond to consumer demands.

This workshop has been organised to deliberate on the proposed architecture solution. TRAI has also contemplated launching a pilot project with a short-term objective of development of a prototype of the interoperable STB & compatible Smart cards. The TRAI notice also contains the technical details of the interoperability framework.

The workshop has been organised to discuss the feasibility of this pilot with the stakeholders. Objectives of the pilot are:

1.    Demonstrate that separation of STB & operator specific CAS functionality is possible in a secure manner.

2.    Frame out & test the specifications for interoperable STBs & SCs in real life conditions, and suggest improvements.

3.    Jointly develop a business model that fairly allocates value to each provider.

4.    Fine tune the architecture proposed by C-DOT and finalize the specifications based on pilot.

5.    Test out integrated and swapping of SCs with STBs in a fully secure manner.

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TRAI starts process of STBs' interoperability, issues consultation note

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