23 November 2020

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Media and Communication

TRAI releases paper on Set Top Box interoperability between TV services



The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India may have antagonised telecom operators in the country recently with its call drop rules, now it is all set to upset television broadcasters. The Authority released a pre-consultation paper on Set Top Box Interoperability in Broadcasting TV Services – simply, the same set top box used between service providers. TRAI raised ecological concerns about the vast numbers of STBs lying disused due to lack of interoperability between broadcasters’ services. It estimates that of the 85 million STBs, about 30 million are destined e-scrapheap.

Direct-to-home broadcasters have leveraged the STB business model heavily. Customers pay for the STB according to the features demanded and then select TV channel bouquets with the broadcaster. Not only does this afford the broadcaster monopoly over the supply of its set top boxes for users, it also creates ‘brand loyalty’, as customers are unwilling to shell out to purchase another broadcaster’s STB to avail of its services. If TRAI’s proposals are accepted, interoperability of STBs aside from enabling consumer freedom will also throw open the market to third party providers. Existing consumers may yet again be be out luck, as ‘technical limitations’ will likely render existing STBs e-waste once interoperable devices are mandated.


The Authority also released telecom subscription figures as of 31 January 2016. The total number of telephone subscribers in India increased by about seven million from December 2015, however, more significant was telecom penetration in rural areas. For the first time, tele-density in rural areas crossed the 50 per cent threshold, suggesting one phone connection for every two persons. Much of that growth has been attributed to wireless connections. Traditionally, urban areas have been growth drivers for telecom companies, particularly with urbanites subscribing to multiple mobile connections. Mobile broadband was also largely responsible for a relatively small increase in the broadband subscriber base, with the number of wired broadband users showing only a modest increase.

Tags : Trai set top box interoperability telecom data

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