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TRAI hopes to solve TV set-top-box interoperability by year-end


New Delhi:  Broadcast regulator TRAI Friday said it is examining possible solutions for achieving TV Set-Top-Box (STB) interoperability, and expects to make headway with industry involvement by the end of this year.

The move assumes significance since consumers get tied down to their service providers, as STBs are bound to the operator. When a consumer wants to change the service provider, they are forced to invest in a new STB, adding to the cost burden. Besides, STBs of old service providers remain unused, and ends up as electronic waste.

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in a statement, said it conducted a workshop to discuss 'downloadable' Conditional Access System (CAS) based solution' to implement STB interoperability.

Citing its new framework for broadcasting and cable services that allows consumers to pay only for channels they wish to see, the regulator said that choice also entails freedom to avail better service offerings in the market.

"As a logical next step towards this objective, TRAI has been exploring the important issue of interoperability of STB....Interoperability of STB is also desirable for creation of open and competitive market bringing in advantage of volume of scale and consumer preference," TRAI said.

It is examining solutions for achieving such interoperability in broadcast network.

Stating that the authority is working with system integrators, vendors, CAS providers and other stakeholders for technical discussions, TRAI said that the detailed consultations will be followed by a Proof-of-Concept (POC) testing of the proposed solution.

"A successful POC testing will address the vital concerns of industry stakeholders related to security, piracy and practicality...TRAI will further deliberate with the stakeholders to identify the gaps, if any, in the proposed solution before taking up the Proof-of-Concept testing," it said.

TRAI hoped that involvement of the industry stakeholders would help in developing acceptable solution for STB interoperability by the year-end.

The Broadcast regulator has been engaging with the stake holders for over two years now to introduce STB interoperability, and the regulator noted that the issue comes with its own set of challenges.

The workshop on the issue that was conducted on Thursday and was attended by 60 participants including broadcasters, Direct To Home (DTH) operators, Multi Systems Operators (MSOs), vendors, CAS suppliers, STB manufacturers and system integrators.

Speaking on the occasion, TRAI Chairman R S Sharma asserted that consumer interest remains the focus of the authority.

"The interoperability brings the economies of scale, freedom of choice, promotes competition that results in overall growth of the sector", he said.

STB interoperability crucial to empower the consumer and enable growth in the broadcasting sectors.

"Based on the experience of Mobile Number Portability, it is certain that interoperability will promote competition and will be a win-win for all stakeholders on medium to long term basis," TRAI statement added.

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