January 2017


Coming Soon - A Common STB For Cable TV Networks & Another For All DTH Platforms

As reported in SCaT July 2016 ("Experts To Explore Inter-Operable STBs"), the government is keen to ensure that all DTH and cable TV STBs are interoperable. This implies that in the near future, any DTH STB must compulsorily be operable on any Pay DTH platform.

Similarly, any Cable TV STB will work on any other Cable TV network.


Minister of State in the MIB Rajyavardhan Rathore told the Rajya Sabha "The inter-ministerial committee (IMC) constituted for the purpose of examining the TRAI recommendations has recommended that the matter may be taken up with Department of Electronics and Information Technology and Bureau of Indian Standard. The ministry of Information & Broadcasting has accepted the recommendations of IMC."

MIB will now ask the DeITY & BIS to frame suitable specifications for implementing STB interoperability.

(The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITY) has been spun off from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology - Ed.)


The TRAI has infact addressed this matter more than 18 months ago. In its recommendations on "Issues relating to new DTH licences" dated 23 July 2014, the TRAI had recommended replacement of licence condition at Clause 7.1 of the existing DTH guidelines that currently stipulates "The open architecture (nonproprietary) STB, which will ensure technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different DTH service providers, shall have such specifications as laid down by the government from time to time" with "the STB offered by a DTH service provider shall have such specifications as laid down by the BIS from time to time."

The TRAI had further recommended that BIS periodically update its STB specifications.


Each Conditional Access System (CAS) is unique and will not work with any other CAS system.

The plan is to make it compulsory to include the Indian Government initiated iCAS system, in every STB deployed in India. The solution is offered at an extremely low price compared to any international CAS solution.

DTH platforms and digital CATV Headends are free to deploy a second or even multiple alternate CAS systems on their network, in what is commonly referred to as 'simulcrypt' i.e. the simultaneous use on more than 1 CAS on the same network.

As a result, even if the consumer shift from one DTH platform to another, the iCAS built into every STB, will ensure that the STB is addressed by the new platform that the consumer shifts to.


However, iCAS will only ensure addressability. The Electronic Program Guide, as well as the program menus of each DTH platform and Digital Headend are unique. They are created in what the platform believes to be the most user friendly and informative experience.

It now remains to be seen if DeITY and BIS also mandate an interoperable EPG, without which STBs will not be practically interoperable in the field.