Trai Chairman Hopes for Set-Top-Box Interoperability By the End of This Year

With STB interoperability, cable and DTH subscribers will not have to buy separate STBs for different providers

  • The concept of interoperability will be based on open source software usage
  • Open source software has also been a big driving factor in the growth of the smartphone industry

TV viewers in India will be able to interchange their set-top-boxes. This means that subscribers will be able to switch to other DTH service providers without needing to buy a new STB. This new rule will be brought into practice by the end of this year with the help of required technology said RS Sharma, Trai chairman. To ET Telecom, Sharma said, “Since last two years we have been trying to make STBs interoperable. A large part of the problem has been resolved. There are some business challenges (which) remain… we are looking at this to happen by the end of this year.”

Open Systems to Make the Future of Tech: Trai Chairman

Sharma also added that interoperability is something which should be thought over in the product planning stage itself and not after the product has been designed and sent out into the market. He also emphasised the fact that open systems are going to be part of the future. Giving an example, he said that the entire back-end of Aadhaar has been developed on open-source software except for the bio-metric duplication system. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman had released a study concerning an open ecosystem for devices in India. The research was done together by Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and consultant firm KPMG, and it showed that 89% of phones in the country work on open source operating systems.

RS Sharma also asserted that this openness in the system and the effect of interoperability in the mobile sector of India make it a successful one as no user is required to switch a phone in case they need to change to a different service provider.

Open Systems Also the Reason for Smartphone Market Growth

ICEA Chairman Pankaj Mohindroo said in this regard, “Many apps/services are being accessed primarily on smartphones now. Prevalence of the Open OS has also facilitated smartphones supporting multi-lingual capabilities and also led to the enhancement of the Skill India program by the government.”

The report published by the agencies also noted that Open OS mobile operating systems have expanded the mobile market in India by reducing the barriers to entry. The study has also indicated that smartphone sales in India rose massively as they were pegged at 2 million units in 2009-10 and touched 117 million units in 2017-18. The number of smartphone makers in the market has also gone up from just being seven in 2009 to around 80 in 2019.

Looking at the number of units, India even outranked the US to take the second spot in the world with its massive smartphone market and a compound annual growth rate of 37% to reach Rs 1.43 lakh crore in 2017. The report also said that the manufacturing of Open OS handsets had created around 550,000 direct or indirect jobs in India.

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Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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