TRAI issues recommendation on interoperable set top box

Posted by TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)  has released recommendation on interoperability of Set Top Box (STB)  for digital TV broadcasting services.

Presently the STBS deployed in the Cable TV networks are non-interoperable, i.e. the same STB cannot be used interchangeably across the different service providers. As far as STBs deployed by Direct to Home (DTH) players are concerned, STBs comply with the license conditions to support Common Interface (CI) module based interoperability. However, in practice, even in DTH segment the STBs are not readily interoperable. The lack of interoperability of STBD between different service providers not only deprives customer of the freedom to change his service provider but also creates a hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality, and the overall sector growth.

TRAI has been engaging with the stakeholders for quite some time for introducing STB The issue has its own challenges with disparate interest groups among Distribution Platform Owners, CAS vendors, STB manufacturers and other stakeholder s. Since the broadcasting sector is content-centric, the security of content and robust anti-piracy features are necessary. Affordability of STB remains on 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.

In this regard, TRAI had issued the Consultation Paper on ‘Interoperability of Set-Top Box’ on 1 1 th November 2019 seeking thc view/response from all the stakeholders towards identifying appropriate solution to implement the interoperability of In response, comments from thirty seven stakeholders and counter-comment from one stakeholder were received. Ari Open Hon se Discussion (OHD) was conducted on 29th January 2020.

Based on the comments/ inputs received from the stakeholders, discussion held during OHD and on its own analysis, TRAI has finalized its Recommendations on ‘Interoperability of Set Top Box’. Few of the salient features of the recommendations are:

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

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may include a suitable clause/ condition in the permission/ Registration / Cable Television 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

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.

MIB may notify through licensing conditions or amendment in 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 ETSI

TS 103605 standards both for DTH STBs being used by MSOs from a perspective 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 ETSI TS 103605 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. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting(MIB) in coordination with TRAI and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) may request BIS to amend the specifications for digital television sets to include provisioning of USB based Common Interface port as per DVB CI Plus2.0 standard based on ETSI TS 103 605 standards. Such specifications must mandate TV manufacturers to:

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

b. Provide the 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. A coordination Committee may be set up by the MIB having members from MeitY, TRAI, BIS and representatives of TV manufacturers. The committee may steer the 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 103605 standards and to have provision for reception of both DTH and Cable television signals.

―BCS Bureau

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