Sunday, August 27, 2006

Digital Broadcasters | Tata Sky DTH Clarification

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News notes that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been busy this month with several directives. One of which covers DTH direct-to-home satellite broadcasting.

TRAI's recommendations relating to DTH are based on meetings with stakeholders and had consultations with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Those recommendations include: clarification to certain provisions of the Licensing conditions; fresh guidelines to be followed in the adoption of the MDU technology, which is basically in the interest of consumers; to protect consumers when multiple service providers enter the same premises, and to ensure fair competition of the cable TV operators and other competitors to the DTH operators, who would also be protected.

In practice there is now clarification that when a DTH subscriber changes the service, he might lose advanced features in his set top box (STBs) like private video recording (PVR) and digital video recording (DVR). Thus, the telecom regulator has kept the advanced features of STBs out of normal interoperability between service suppliers, leaving just basic TV viewing as interoperable.

TRAI has also recommended allowing commercial interoperability through which DTH players can provide STBs on rental, as under Conditional Access System (CAS) circumstances.

At present, this is not allowed.

Consumers won’t be forced to buy STBs with advanced features so have to be aware of what STB features may be lost in changeover between service suppliers.

Finally, it will be easier for apartment residents to access DTH service through a single common dish for the building as a whole rather than using individual dishes for each residence in the block.

These recommendations were originally queried in the Spring by the major DTH digital pay-tv broadcaster, Tata Sky, which sought changes in the then existing DTH regime. The Telecoms Authority issued a Consultation Paper on Licensing Issues on June 5, which led to the current set of DTH, STB recommendations.

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