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MIB accepts IMC’s recommendation on STB interoperability

MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) is looking to make set-top boxes (STBs) interchangeable between various direct-to-home (DTH) service providers.

As a step in this direction, the MIB has accepted the Inter-Ministerial Committee’s (IMC) recommendation that the matter of set-top box (STB) interoperability be taken up with the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DEIT) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

Minister of State in the MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore shared this information in the Rajya Sabha.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore“The inter-ministerial committee (IMC) constituted for the purpose of examining the Trai recommendations has recommended that the matter may be taken up with Department of Electronics and Information Technology and Bureau of Indian Standard. The ministry of information & broadcasting has accepted the recommendations of IMC,” Rathore said.

MIB will, thus, start discussions on STB interoperability issue with the DEIT and the BIS.

Currently, STBs are not interchangeable across different DTH service providers. Each DTH operator has its specific STB.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its recommendations on ‘Issues relating to new DTH licences’ dated 23 July 2014 had recommended replacement of licence condition at Clause 7.1 of the existing DTH guidelines that stipulates that “The open architecture (non-proprietary) STB, which will ensure technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different DTH service providers, shall have such specifications as laid down by the government from time to time” with “the STB offered by a DTH service provider shall have such specifications as laid down by the BIS from time to time.”

TRAI had further recommended that BIS come out periodically with updated specifications for STBs. It also recommended that the STB specifications be arrived at after consultation with TRAI and that the licence conditions mandate the licensee to comply with the tariff order/scheme prescribed by the authority for commercial interoperability.

India has six private DTH operators comprising Dish TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct and Reliance Digital TV. In November, Dish TV and Videocon d2h announced they would merge to create a new entity called Dish TV Videocon.

TRAI, the broadcast sector regulator, has been wanting the entire industry, and not just DTH, to move to STB interoperability.