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Stage set for Freedish-encrypted MPEG4 STB rollout as DD shortlists 5 suppliers

MUMBAI:  Five set-top box (STB) manufacturers have been selected by Doordarshan for supplying encrypted MPEG4 STBs for its free direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish.

These original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are Modern Communication and Broadcast System, Velankani Electronics, BGM Holding Company, KMTS Engineering, and Millennium Technology.

The authorised OEMs will integrate their STBs with the iCAS and DD-approved firmware/middleware. The STB OEMs will be required to provide the duly certified integration testing report from the iCAS OEM and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification.

DD will test five such STBs and, on successful integration and testing of the STBs, it will issue a letter of intent to the STB OEM.

The STB OEM will be required to submit the requisite performance bank guarantee (PBG) amount to Doordarshan within 15 days of the issue of the letter of intent.

After receipt of the PBG amount, Doordarshan will enter into an agreement with the STB OEM, authorising it to sell iCAS and DD-approved firmware/middleware-enabled STBs in India for reception of DD Freedish service.

The STB OEMs will have to contact ByDesign in Bangalore for all STB integration and certification related to iCAS platform.

Earlier DD DG Supriya Sahu had told TelevisionPost.com that the encrypted STBs would be rolled out in April.

The rollout of encrypted STBS will allow Freedish to keep a tab on its subscriber numbers. It will also help in increasing the channel-carrying capacity to 104 channels, up from the 80 channels it offers currently.

In September 2015, Doordarshan had set in motion the process of rolling out encrypted MPEG 4 STBs for Freedish with the issue of tender for appointing authorised STB OEMs.

The e-application was issued on 20 September. The delivery period of STBs is three months.

The target is to provide 250 channels through the MPEG 4 STBs. Freedish will also get additional transponders for expanding its service. “We will get additional transponders for providing 250 channels. Currently, we have six transponders,” Jha had added.

Freedish currently provides 80 TV channels and 30 radio channels through MPEG-2 STBs. This is likely to be enhanced to 104 SDTV channels and 40 radio channels in the near future with the introduction of new MPEG-4, DVB-S2 stream.

At present, Doordarshan has not authorised anybody to sell the receiver equipment, which is available in the open market and can be purchased from any TV dealer.

The CAS in the STBs will be based on iCAS. Developed by the Department of Electronics & Information Technology, iCAS will initially be introduced only in MPEG-4 DVB-52 channels to count the total number of active subscribers.

The STBs will have to be BIS-compliant. Every STB must have BIS certification marking along with the Freedish logo. The STB OEMs will have to provide aftersales maintenance support in the form of direct service centres or franchisees or OEM service centres.

The STB OEMs shall provide aftersales support to the subscriber during the contract period of five years or for at least three years from the date of sale of the STB, whichever is later, failing which the PBG will be encashed.

The PBG will be 5% of the total value of iCAS and DD-approved firmware/middleware-enabled STBs in the Indian market. The validity of the PBG will be for a period of five years and 60 days from the date of authorising the STB OEM by signing the agreement.

The STB OEM will have to provide a list of service centres along with a contact number and address to Doordarshan for DD iCAS and firmware/middleware-enabled STBs.

Doordarshan will authorise the STB OEMs, initially, for a period of 5 years, which can be further extended, subject to satisfactory quality of service. It will authorise OEMs to sell the STBs for a minimum of 25,000 STBs and multiples thereof. No proposal shall be considered for DD authorisation below this quantity.

The STBs of the STB OEMs should not have a quarterly failure rate of more than 0.1% of the total deployed/registered STBs. Doordarshan shall levy a penalty to the extent indicated below if the quarterly failure rate exceeds beyond 0.1%.

The penalty will be 2% of the PBG if the failure rate is above 0.1%. For 1–5% failure, the penalty will be 5%. For 5–10%, the penalty will be 10%. If the failure rate exceeds 10%, DD will encash 90% of the PBG.

If the quarterly failure rate increases beyond 10% for three quarters, then Doordarshan may terminate the authorisation to sell and in such case it shall have the right to encash the 100% amount of the PBG.

The STB OEMs can terminate the MoU after three years from the date of commencement of the agreement by giving a one-month notice. DD can terminate the agreement without assigning any reason with a one-month notice.