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TRAI seeks stakeholders’ views based on C-DOT’s suggestions for STB interoperability

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation note on solution architecture for technical interoperable set-top box (STB) for digital TV broadcasting services.

Presently, the STBs deployed in the network are non-interoperable as the same box cannot be used interchangeably across different service providers.

The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers has not only compromised the competition in the pay TV market but also been a major hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality and sector growth, TRAI said.

TRAI is in the process of laying down a framework of interoperable STBs. With this framework, the subscriber would be able to change the service provider without any need to re-invest in the new STB.

The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT), the telecom technology development centre of the government of India, in coordination with TRAI, has developed solution architecture for interoperable STBs. The framework ensures that existing STBs deployed in the networks will continue to work without any interruption.

The architectural details of interoperable framework suggested by C-DOT are as follows:

  • Use of a nodal agency (trusted authority) to issue authentication codes to both STB manufacturers and operators.
  • Each operator will have their own smart cards that will inter-work with the interoperable STB.
  • A light-weight but highly secure layer between STB and smart card (SC) by using advanced cryptographic system suitable to interoperable STB context.
  • Industry standard algorithms such as AES and RSA are used.
  • · Identification of operator-configurable blocks in STB; configuration through SC/over the air.
  • Adaptation of industry standard algorithms with time-variant dynamic session key generation to achieve high security.
  • Mobile OTP-based security augmentation (at the installation time, on a periodic basis and trigger based).
  • Operator-specific part of CAS in the SC (ECM, EMM decryption, etc.) retained unaltered leaving enough space for innovation by CAS vendors.
  • Operator-specific middleware adaptations in STB at the installation time.
  • EPG is envisaged to be an STB feature. This is in line with mobile segment where a basic low-end mobile will give only a very minimal UI whereas a high-end mobile when connected to the same network will give richer UI. However, there is provision for downloading the operator-specific machine-readable EPG through OTA.
  • Secure boot is an essential feature and is also taken into consideration in this framework. In present-day implementation, secure boot is CAS specific; in the interoperable framework, the secure boot is achieved using manufacturer’s signature, which is independent of any CAS. Similarly, for OTA also manufacturer’s signature is used along with operator’s credentials for verifications.

TRAI has sought the comments of stakeholders on the proposed solution. Further, through this consultation note, TRAI has also invited stakeholders to participate in the proposed workshop and pilot project for implementation and testing of STB interoperability.

Stakeholders are requested to provide their written comments on the proposed solution architecture for technical interoperable STB by 25 August.

According to TRAI, the framework of interoperable STB should ensure the following:

  • The level of security should be similar to or better than what is present today.
  • The framework must be sound enough to prevent reception of services by unauthorised persons.
  • The prices of the interoperable STBs should remain comparable with non-interoperable STBs.
  • The portability cost should reduce considerably.
  • DPOs should be able to choose security solutions (conditional access system) as per their requirements.
  • The proposed solution must be able to identify pirates, if any.
  • The UI and electronic programme guide (EPG) format customisation.
  • The framework should ensure that TV channels with EPG listing continue to be available to the consumers on migration to another operator.

TRAI had earlier issued a pre-consultation paper on 4 April 2016 to solicit the views of stakeholders to identify various issues relating to technical interoperability of STBs, challenges, and concerns of the industry.

The said paper was released with the intent to drive the focus of the TV broadcasting industry towards the suitable solutions for technical interoperability of STBs, which can be worked out. In response to the pre-consultation paper, a total of 28 comments were received from stakeholders.

To address the concerns of the stakeholders in respect of interoperable STBs, as communicated in response to the pre-consultation paper mentioned above, TRAI collaborated with IIT Bombay and C-DOT.

C-DOT has provided TRAI a copy of the document titled “C-DOT framework and feature requirements for the ecosystem entities towards implementation of STB interoperability framework”.

C-DOT has suggested that, to achieve technical interoperability of STBs, it is required that every entity in the total signal/content chain satisfy the recommendations towards interoperability.

It also said that to attain STB interoperability, it is very much necessary that a total interoperable framework is developed and mandated. In this interoperable framework, the major focus has been on achieving interoperability for basic STBs.

In this scheme, it is also taken care that smooth migration towards an interoperable regime is possible, so far as field proliferation is concerned.

To implement this framework by the relevant stakeholders and to achieve STB interoperability, it is necessary that corresponding total specifications detailing the messages and frame structures are formulated and adhered to by all the stakeholders.