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Interoperablility of set-top boxes

TRAI released a consultation paper on interoperable set-top box (STB) for digital TV broadcasting services on November 11, 2019.
The digital TV broadcasting services are received by subscriber using a STB, connected with the TV set. STB receives TV signals from distribution network and decodes them into viewable form for TV set. STB enables the subscriber to view only those TV channels which he has subscribed. Presently the STBs deployed in the network are non-interoperable, i.e., the same STB cannot be used interchangeably across the different service providers. As far as STBs deployed by DTH players are concerned, STBs comply with the license conditions to support common interface (CI) module based interoperability. The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers has not only compromised the competition in the pay-TV market but also a major hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality and sector growth.

TRAI had issued a pre-consultation paper on set-top box interoperability during April 2016. Thereafter, a consultation note on solution architecture developed by C-DoT for technical interoperable set-top box was issued during August 2017. The smart card-based solution has been successfully tested in lab conditions using separate instances of CAS developed by C-DoT. However, the field testing with third party CAS solution is still to be conducted with different industry stakeholders.

TRAI has been taking various measures to achieve the set-top box interoperability including the stakeholders’ meetings/discussions. The authority also engaged with various technology companies in the broadcasting technology space for information exchange. A consultation paper is now issued with a view to elicit response from all the stakeholders for suggesting the best solution to implement the interoperability of STB. Stakeholders have been invited to provide their written comments on the proposed solution architecture for technical interoperable STB. The last date for submission of written comments has been extended to December 18, 2019 and counter comments by December 30, 2019.

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