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TRAI Empowers Users To Buy Their Own Set Top Box

Effective February 1st, cable TV and DTH users can now buy their own set-top boxes when opting for a new connection. This means that cable companies and DTH providers such as Tata Sky, Airtel, D2h, Dish, Sun Direct etc cannot force the users with their own branded set-top boxes.

How is this beneficial for the end user?

Meanwhile, Chennai High Court has dismissed a petition which sought to block the new Cable TV Rules. This means now, the implementation of the new rules cannot be postponed or delayed.

Users Can Choose Their Own Set Top Box
There are several interesting, and user-friendly guidelines which are part of the new Cable TV Rules, which will come into force effective February 1st.

Prominent among these is the rule about set-top boxes.

TRAI has clearly mentioned that users of cable and DTH can now choose their own set-top box, which can be bought from the open market. As of now, the users are compelled to use and buy the set-top box which is provided by the respective Cable and DTH firms such as Tata Sky, Airtel, D2h etc.

Here is what TRAI says on this matter: “Every Distributor or its linked local cable operator shall provide to every subscriber the set-top box. It shall be permissible for every subscriber to buy a set top box of approved quality from the open market, if available, which is technically compatible with the system of the distributor of television channels. The distributor or its linked local cable operator, as the case may be, shall not compel any subscriber to buy or take on rent the set-top box from him alone,”

Portability Of Set Top Boxes Very Soon

Although the rule to buy their own set-top box is good, practically, it is not feasible as of now.

The reason is that today, set-top boxes are manufactured by different vendors, which are customized as per the respective DTH/Cable company which buys them in bulk.

Things like compression technique, coding technique, encryption system, middleware, and operating system etc are all different, and cannot be compatible with all Cable/DTH providers.

This is the reason, portability of set-top boxes is also not happening.

But now, TRAI has assured that portability of set-top boxes will be made possible by end of the year. This can only happen once a common platform and technology is created, which is common for all.

TRAI Chief RS Sharma said, “The project is going on, though it is taking more time than what we had originally thought of. It is continuing I will try to certainly complete this within one year.”

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