TRAI recommends mandatory STB interoperability

Both DTH operators and MSOs will have to adopt DVB CI Plus 2.0 standards

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today released recommendations on interoperability of set top boxes (STB) for digital TV broadcasting services. STBs must be made interoperable within each segment of cable TV and DTH respectively.

TRAI says that currently, STBs are non-interoperable and that deprives the customer of the freedom to change his service provider and creates a hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality, and the overall sector growth.

“The issue has its own challenges with disparate interest groups among distribution platform owners, CAS vendors, STB manufacturers and other stakeholders. Since the broadcasting sector is content-centric, security of content and robust anti-piracy features are necessary. Affordability of STB remains an important criterion and any suggested solution should not cause undue increase in price 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,” says the release.

DTH STBs comply with the license conditions to support common interface (CI) module-based interoperability. However, in practice, even in the DTH segment, the STBs are not readily interoperable.

TRAI recommends the following:

* All set top boxes in India must support technical interoperability in principle, i.e., every STB provided to a consumer must be interoperable.

* Ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) may include a suitable clause/condition in the permission/registration/cable TV network rule mandating all the DPOs (DTH as well as MSOs) to compulsorily facilitate service provisioning through the interoperable STBs either provided by DPOs or procured by the consumers from open market.

* There are technical and commercial constraints to universal STB. Therefore, interoperability of STBs, with effect from the date as prescribed vide the extant clause/ condition, shall be ensured within the DTH or cable segment. That is, the interoperability shall be applicable within the DTH segment and within the cable segment, respectively.

* The MIB may notify through licensing conditions or amendment in the Cable Television  Network  Rules   1994  as  per  the  Cable  Television  Network (Regulation)  Act, 1995  or  through  any other appropriate  mechanism mandatory use of DVB CI+ 2.0 standards (with USB CAM) as per the ETSITS 103 605 standards both for DTI I STI3s and STFBs being used by MSOs from a prospective date.

* A time of six month may be given to both DTH operators and MSOs 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.

* The authority recommends mandatory provisioning of USB port-based common interface for all  digital television sets in  India. MIB in coordination with TRAI and ministry of electronics and information technology may request BIS to amend the specifications for digital television sets to include provisioning of USB- based common interface port as per DVB CI Plus 2.0 standard based on ETSI TS 103 605 standards. Such specifications must mandate TV manufactures to:

·         Provide all digital television sets with minimum one open interface port based on DVB CI Plus 2.0 standards permitting simple connection of USB CAM to allow reception of television signals.

·         Provide digital television sets with built-in tuners to enable reception of television content through both satellite and cable platforms.

Setting Up of Coordination and Implementation Committee

A coordination committee may be set up by the MIB having members from the ministry of electronics and information technology, TRAI, BIS and representatives of TV manufacturers. The committee may steer implementation of revised STB standards for both the DTH and the cable TV segment.

Further, the committee may maintain continuous oversight for setting up of the digital television standards by BIS to provide for DVB CI Plus 2.0 port based on ETSI TS 103 605 standards and to have provision for reception of both DTH and cable television signals. The coordination committee may steer the adaptation of the revised STB and digital television standards in a time-bound manner.

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