Tamil Nadu

TRAI: 54 million set-top boxes lying idle

Nearly 54 million set-top boxes (STBs) are lying idle or unused in the country in the Direct-To-Home (DTH) segment alone, with a sizeable chunk of these being idle due to non-interoperability of STBs, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Since the inactive STBs cannot be used for reception of services from any other operator, the money invested goes waste and results in a large number of e-waste, TRAI noted in a consultation paper seeking comments on interoperability of STBs.

The consultation paper uploaded on the TRAI website seeks comments on the much debated issue of portability of cable TV service providers much like the case of porting of mobile phone numbers between various telecom service providers.

Porting facility

TRAI noted that the non-availability of porting facility between two cable service providers in the DTH segment restricts choice to consumers. “The virtual lock-in of the subscribers due to non- interoperability of STBs between different service providers has adverse effect on competition and service quality in the PayTV distribution market as the operator has no motivation or drive to improve its services,” the paper said.

An open, non-proprietary architecture of STBs, which ensures technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different service providers will bring competitiveness in the market and shift the focus of the sector towards providing innovative and better quality of services to the consumers at competitive prices, according to TRAI.

Since a consumer needs to buy or is given a new STB when moving between service providers, the old STB becomes idle, the money invested goes waste and the box becomes e-waste. “Considering an initial capital expenditure around $25 per STB, a total of $1,350 million capital is lying unused in DTH segment,” it noted.

The paper said that interoperability of STBs might not be feasible under the currently architecture where the hardware is locking in a proprietary eco-system in the STBs. While raising a number of issues for consultation on the issue, TRAI suggested “it would be perhaps more appropriate is for interoperability of STB a software-based approach is adopted. Stakeholders may consider and suggest the way forward for a all-encompassing solution that is efficient and most cost-effective”.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 9:55:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/trai-54-million-set-top-boxes-lying-idle/article29966760.ece

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