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Old set-top box, but new DTH operator

New Delhi, July 28: Consumers dissatisfied with the services of their direct-to-home (DTH) operator may soon be able to shift to another one without having to change the set-top box.

The Centre has asked the-Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to explore how set-top box (STB) inter-operability can be effectively made possible.

Technical inter-operability will give the customer flexibility to change the service provider without having to change the customer premises equipment. It will only require changing a smart card, as in mobile communications.

I&B ministry officials said TRAI had released a recommendation paper last week on a new DTH licensing regime.

“In the paper, the authority has said STB inter-operability is not possible at present because of different technologies adopted by operators at different times of entering the market. They have asked the bureau of Indian standards (BIS) to regularly update the standard of STB technology,” said a senior official.

“We have now asked for recommendations on how portability of DTH set-top boxes can be done easily.”

This would be a step forward, in line with the practice prevailing in the global market.

Under the existing DTH rules too, set-top boxes have to inter-operable. But DTH operators have not ensured this, flouting licensing terms.

Some DTH operators have argued that set-top box inter-operability should be kept out of licensing guidelines. Dish TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Reliance Digital TV and Airtel Digital TV have claimed that achieving inter-operability is difficult because of varying technologies adopted by DTH operators and is commercially unviable.