STB interoperability involves complex R&D process to devise a widely acceptable solution: MIB

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MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) has said that the set top box (STB) interoperability involves a complex research & development (R&D) process to devise a widely acceptable solution.

Responding to a question in Lok Sabha on the matter, I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has taken up the issue relating to development of interoperable STBs that should be compatible across operators using same platforms.

“The matter involves a complex R&D (Research and Development) process to devise a widely acceptable solution among the stakeholders,” he added.

He noted that the STB provided by a service provider is tightly coupled with Conditional Access System (CAS) deployed by the Service Provider. The interoperability of STBs is a complex issue involving the issue of probable piracy of content.

“It primarily needs to take care of disparate requirements such as technical neutrality, innovation, flexibility and low cost of STB etc. STBs in the market used different compression technique, Coding technique, Encryption system, Middleware and operating system. These technical options make it unique and complicate the interoperability,” he added.

Earlier, TRAI chairman RS Sharma had said that the regulatory body is working towards making STBs interoperable by the end of 2019. The authority had conducted a workshop to discuss the downloadable CAS based solution to implement STB interoperability at its headquarters.

The workshop was attended by more than 60 participants representing leading broadcasters, direct to home (DTH) operators, multi system operators (MSOs), system on chip (SoC) vendors, CAS suppliers, STB manufacturers, and system integrators.

TRAI said it will further deliberate with the stakeholders to identify the gaps if any in the proposed solution before taking up the Proof-of-Concept testing. The authority expects that involvement and support of all the industry stakeholders will help in developing the acceptable solution for STB interoperability by the year-end.

The authority had stated that there are few possible solutions for achieving interoperability in a unidirectional broadcast network. This includes a smart-card based solution designed by C-DOT. Another solution, using a simul-crypt allowing downloadable-CAS has now been proposed. The authority is working with system integrators, SOC vendors, CAS providers and other stakeholders for technical discussions.

After detailed consultations, a Proof-of-Concept (POC) testing of the proposed solution will be arranged. A successful POC testing will address the vital concerns of industry stakeholders related to security, piracy, and practicality.


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