TRAI issues CP on KYC of DTH STBs to restrict illegal smuggling of equipments to other countries

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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on ‘KYC of DTH Set Top Boxes’.

TRAI has received a reference from ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) dated 27th December 2018 wherein the regulator has been requested to give its considered recommendations on desirability or otherwise of Know Your Customer (KYC) for set top boxes (STBs) in DTH Services and, if desirable, then the process for the same.

In the past, TRAI had also received a representation from Helpful Foundation in 2017 regarding various STBs of Indian DTH service providers being smuggled from India to the neighbouring countries and those DTH STBs are issued in the name of Indian citizens Id-proof.

In the letter, the MIB has also mentioned applying certain safeguards for restricting smuggling of DTH equipment illegally to other countries.

Further, vide letter dated 26th March 2019, MIB has provided information regarding the safeguards that can be applied for restricting smuggling of DTH equipment illegally to other countries: –
a) Filling of KYC form and verification of Aadhar Card may be mandatory for any customer purchasing DTH equipment. In order to check location in accordance with customer ID /Card ID, location-based services need to be made active in DTH Set-Top-Boxes.
b) The DTH operators may be asked to operate on satellites having coverage in India only. They can block the services of the identified foreign customer for which checking of KYC and physical verification of DTH boxes of each subscriber may be carried out on regular interval.
c) GPS enabled Set-top-Box (STB) with geo-fencing to Indian coordinates only may be used to restrict the illegal DTH run in other countries.
d) MIB and TRAI may prepare KYC verification process to ensure that STB used by Indian DTH operators are only working in India.
e) There is a need to bring down dependence on foreign satellites.

Based on the reference received from the ministry, the TRAI has framed key issues for consultation.

The TRAI has sought stakeholders’ view if there is a need for KYC or e-KYC of DTH STB to address smuggling of DTH equipment illegally to other countries and the process that must be followed to prevent this?

In the consultation paper, the TRAI has also asked whether one-time KYC is enough at the time of installation or verification is required to be done on periodic basis to ensure its actual location? If yes, what should be the periodicity of suchverification?

Another key question in the consultation paper is whether KYC of the existing DTH STBs is also required to be done along with the new DTH STBs? If yes, how much time should be given for verifying the existing STBs for DTH?

The TRAI has also sought views if the location-based services (LBS) needs to be incorporated in the DTH set top boxes to track its location? Will there be any cost implication? Give your response with supporting data and justification.

The regulator noted that there are five pay DTH operators providing TV services through Addressable Systems in the country. The net active subscriber base of DTH subscribers in March 2019 is reported as 72.44 million.

The reception of the Cable TV services and DTH services requires a Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) which is connected with the TV set. In DTH, the CPE comprises of a Set Top Box (STB), a small Dish antenna along with Low-Noise Block Converter (LNBC) and Radio Frequency (RF) cable as depicted in the Figure-

The TRAI stated that this consultation paper seeks the comments of various organisations, industry bodies, DTH operators, standardisation bodies, STB manufacturers, software providers, stakeholders, experts, individuals etc. so that suitable mechanism of KYC for DTH STBs can be finalised.

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