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TRAI seeks comments on allowing PVR, MDU on DTH platform

07-June-2006
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TRAI seeks comments on allowing PVR, MDU on DTH platform

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has sought comments on some contentious issues regarding DTH service, which may need amendment in the DTH licensing agreement, like excluding personal video recorders (PVR) from the interoperability compliance norm and use of Multiple Dwelling Unit (MDU) technology through which residents of multi-storey buildings can access DTH through a single common dish.

TRAI has issued the consultation paper on the request of the I&B Ministry, which received representations from DTH license holders like Tata Sky. Tata Sky, jointly promoted by Tata and STAR India, has appealed to the Ministry that high-end new generation PVRs/DVRs be kept out of the interoperability requirement.

Interoperability allows consumers to shift from one service provider to another. Tata Sky has held that interoperability should not apply for the advanced versions of set top boxes, which have certain additional features and value added services like video on demand as these value added features could not be made interoperable for technical reasons.

Accordingly, if a consumer were to buy a set top box with these additional features, he would lose the value added feature, if and when they migrate from one service provider to the other. Only the basic feature of viewing the television channel as well as some facility like recording would be retained in such a shift.

However, the only operational private DTH provider ASC Enterprises, owner of Dish TV, has held that they are in favour of interoperability for all digital video recorders and are already providing the same.

TRAI has sought views on whether or not commercial interoperability should also be mandated for DTH licensing.

On the issue of allowing Multiple Dwelling Unit (MDU), TRAI has sought views on whether or not this should be considered permissible under the present guidelines and whether amendments should be made to the licensing agreement to allow or prohibit the service.

In multi-storey buildings, the DTH licensees are using the MDU technology, which enables the residents of the building to access the DTH service through a single common dish for the building as a whole rather than using individual dishes for each home. This dish is connected to the individual home through a cable system. For each TV set there will still be a need for a separate set top box to view different programming.

Written comments on these issues can be sent to TRAI by June 26, 2006.

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