The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has already revealed its intention of making set-top box interoperability a reality by the end of this year. To make that possible and to find out relevant solutions to the issue, the regulator conducted a workshop on downloadable conditional access system (CAS) based solution today at its headquarters. The workshop witnessed the attendance from over 60 participants which included representatives from leading broadcasters, Direct to Home (DTH) providers, SoC vendors, Multi System Operators (MSOs), CAS suppliers and set-top box manufacturers. Trai believes that CAS might be the way forward to make interoperability possible on STBs.
Trai to Develop a Proof of Concept as Next Step
The regulator also said that it would further sit down with the stakeholders and deliberate to identify more issues, in case there are any, before moving on to developing a Proof-of-Concept. Trai believes that with the support and active participation of all industry stakeholders and industry representatives, it will be able to create an acceptable solution for STB interoperability by year-end.
Reiterating its philosophy of keeping consumer interest a top priority, Trai chairman RS Sharma said, “The interoperability brings the economies of scale, freedom of choice, promotes competition that results in the overall growth of the sector. STB interoperability is very important to empower the consumer and engender further 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.”
Interoperability Should Also be Secure and Anti-Piracy
Trai also filled in details about the other possible solutions that can be implemented for interoperability. The first one of them includes a smart card based solution developed by C-DOT. Another solution is the simul-crypt allowing downloadable-CAS, which Trai is presently discussing with the industry stakeholders and relevant companies like SoC vendors, STB manufacturers and more. The next move towards interoperability by Trai will be developing a Proof-of-Concept. A successful POC testing would then answer the questions of the industry stakeholders related to security, piracy, and practicality.
The regulatory authority has brought into effect the new pricing framework effective December 29, 2018. As per Trai, transparency, non-discrimination, protection of consumer interest remain its top priority, and as such, the new tariff regime makes it possible for the TV subscribers to choose and pay for only those channels which they watch. As a logical next step towards achieving this, Trai has also been eyeing the issue of STB interoperability. Currently, a subscriber is bound to his or her operator, and once an STB is bought, it can’t be used with any other service provider thus increasing the cost of switching to another operator. With interoperability, this won’t be the case as subscribers will be able to use a set-top box from one operator under service from another DTH provider. Since the broadcasting industry relies totally on content, ensuring a cost-effective, anti-piracy and secure solution will be pivotal.