The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) in a regulatory step towards the DTH industry in India has issued a consultation paper on KYC of set-top boxes. On December 27, 2018, Trai received a reference from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) which requests for the considered recommendations on the desirability or Know Your Customer (KYC) for set-top boxes in DTH services. And, the reference letter from the I&B ministry has also asked if desirable, then what is likely to be the process for the same.
Points of Consultation in Trai's Paper
Back in 2017, Helpful Foundation had also represented Trai regarding various set-top boxes being smuggled from India to neighbouring countries and it was noted that these STBs were issued in the name of Indian citizens with their ID proof. In the letter to Trai, the I&B ministry had also stated some safeguards for stopping the smuggling of DTH equipment illegally to neighbouring countries.
In its letter to Trai, the ministry has noted some safeguards in details which can be undertaken for putting a hold on illegal smuggling of DTH STBs. The first of these steps could include the filling of KYC form and verification of Aadhar Card, which may be made mandatory for any customer purchasing DTH equipment. This would enable the authorities to locate in accordance with customer ID /Card ID, location-based services need to be made active in DTH Set-Top-Boxes. Also, as the second safeguard amongst the points stated by the ministry, 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.
Solutions for Set-top Boxes to Stop Smuggling
The DTH operators can also be urged to use GPS enabled Set-Top Box with geo-fencing to Indian coordinates, this would discourage the users to use the DTH STB in other countries. The MIB and Trai can also work to set up a KYC process which can ensure that the DTH set-top box is only being used in India. The MIB has also noted that there is a need to reduce the dependence on foreign satellites. Trai has sought the view of stakeholders on whether or not KYC or e-KYC is needed to stop the smuggling of DTH equipment to other countries. Trai has also asked whether one-time KYC is enough at the time of installation or verification is required to be done on a periodic basis to ensure its actual location. Another question which would need to be addressed is whether or not the KYC of existing set-top boxes will need to be done.