New Delhi: Switching Cable operators without changing Set Top Boxes may be a reality soon as Broadcast regulator, TRAI is looking at making set-top boxes (STBs) inter-operable. This would let users change their DTH or cable TV service provider without changing the digital box.
Cable television suppliers and direct-to-home (DTH) players have said that they have doubts about the technical practicability of such a system. “We are working on introducing inter-operability on set-top boxes. The idea is to make them more like a telecom device”, TRAI chairman Ram Sewak Sharma told TOI.
Presently consumers have to worry about the hassle of changing the digital set-top box when changing an operator. The same problem also arises when one changes a cable TV provider. TRAI chief R S Sharma has said the regulator is looking at the defining standards for STBs so that changing a service provider for accessing TV content should be same as changing a telecom operator by changing SIM card. “Why should a multi-system operator or a local cable operator supply the digital boxes? The model we are considering is the same as in telecom where the phone is a commodity and content providers can connect with the device through a SIM card.”
Sharma said the regulator would set standards that will end the monopoly of a service provider on the STBs. “We will set up standards so that the STBs are not tied to a provider. It should be the same philosophy as it exists in the telecom sector,” he said. “The STB should be de-coupled from the service provider.”
The TRAI chief said that work has already begun on making the digital boxes inter-operable. “We will consult the stakeholders on this matter.”
Jawahar Goel, managing director of Dish TV, said while commercial inter-operability is being practised, it is technically not possible to have common boxes for various service pro viders. “This is possible when there is a two-way communication like in a mobile handset. Our business is a one-way technology. A mobile handset and an STB are different technologies.”
Vikki Choudhry, who heads Home Digital network said, “It is technically not possible and does not happen anywhere across the world. If there is inter-operability, it will result in breach of content security.”