April 2017

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Q: I have read recently that some LCOs change their MSO / Headend and 'swap' the old STBs with other STBs, that work with the new Headend. What exactly is changed in box swapping? Which parts in the STB are replaced? How much does it cost? Please explain.

Rahul Sindhav, by E-Mail.

ANS: When a customer or the LCO shifts from one MSO to another, the set top box of the old MSO will no longer work.

The entire Set Top Box (STB) of the old MSO is to be swapped/ exchanged with a new STB.

Swapping STB does not mean changing only a part/component inside the STB. The entire STB must be changed.

The old STB is useless and a complete loss for the LCO or consumer.


As mentioned in this magazine, the I&B Ministry plans to introduce a new law, making it compulsory for all new STBs to be interoperable. This means that the STB from one MSO can be used on any other Indian MSO's network.

This will be possible only if all STBs sold (in future) in India utilise the Indian Government's iCAS encryption system.

Of course some problems will still remain with the EPG and middleware.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is in the process of framing a new standard that will enable interoperable STBs. It is hoped that the new standards will be available for implementation this year.

We will of course keep our readers well informed.


Q: Can we deliver internet on our current cable network with coaxial cable and amplifier?

P K Sharma, 24 Parganas.

ANS: Yes, Of course!

You will need to install a CMTS in your Headend + 1 Cable Modem at each subscriber's location.

To deliver broadband / internet, you will need to have a good Reverse Path, because for internet, signals are sent both ways.


Q: What is the difference between an internet connection and a broadband connection? Are they both the same?

A. Sahay, Bihar.

ANS: An internet connection is a term used to describe any connection or network that delivers the internet.

A broadband connection is an internet connection with the following two additional properties:

1. It must be a continuously on connection.

2. It must deliver the internet at a minimum speed of 512 Kbps (i.e. 0.5 MBps).

In earlier days internet was often delivered through a phone line and a dial-up modem. The consumer had to start the modem which was connected to the phone line and dial it through the computer. A link was then established and the consumer would be charged for every minute that he stayed connected. Dial up modems typically had a maximum speed of 56 Kbps.

Today, almost all internet delivery through wires (wireline internet) is a broadband connection. The connection is continuously on and as soon as a computer is switched on, it will be connected to the internet. The consumer is charged for the amount of data sent + received, and not for the time that it is connected.

Broadband speeds available to Indian consumers usually varies from 512 Kbps (minimum speed permitted) upto typically 50 MBps or faster. In many countries, broadband is delivered at speeds upto 1000 MBps.

Q: I am a LCO in a small place in Andhra Pradesh state. I have installed 12 core fibre in large parts of my network. One company located in my network wants to connect their Head Office to their Branch using my optical fibre, for their accounts and data. They are willing to rent two separate dark fibres from me on a monthly basis.

However, the local ISP tells me that I cannot lease my dark fibre for data. I must have an ISP licence to provide any data leasing services. Is this correct or is he only fooling me?

Mr. A V P, Andhra Pradesh.

ANS: A cable operator can lay fibre for cable TV operations as long as he has an MSO or LCO licence.

However, broadband operations and licencing is done by the Department of Telecom (DoT).

Yes, an ISP licence is required if you are providing fibre on monthly lease for carrying data.

You have the following 2 options:


To rent fibre carrying Data Services, you need to be an ISP. Hence, rather than rent the fibre, you could sell the fibre to your customer. You could sign a sale agreement wherein he pays you the full amount upfront, or the sale price in 36 monthly instalments (i.e. spread over 3 years). The monthly instalments could be similar to what you would have charged as monthly rent. In this arrangement, the ownership of the fibre is transferred to the customer. The customer will effectively have his own fibre between the 2 offices. The fibre is self-owned by the end user and he is not leasing any services. It may still be prudent to check that this arrangement does not violate any law.


You obtain an ISP licence as an independent company. Make sure that the company which obtains an ISP licence is completely different from the cable TV company you own. The ISP licence requires payment of 8% Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of the ISP billings.

If the ISP company and the cable company are the same you will have to pay 8% or 6% AGR on the cable revenues also!


ISP licences are issued in the following 3 categories:

 ISP A (All India ISP)

 ISP B (Any one of 4 Metro Cities or 16 Telecom Circle)

 ISP C (All areas not covered under ISP B)

I presume you are located in an ISP C area. The table below summarises the amounts payable for obtaining ISP A, B or C licences. Do note that the AGR is paid continuously while the entry fee, processing fee and bank guarantees are one time costs.

Broadband offers much better profit margins (more than 200% to 300%) of Cable TV retailing. I would therefore urge all LCOs / MSOs to consider diversifying their business to deliver internet and broadband to their customers. An ISP licence will enable you to commence this business.

The TRAI has promised to look into current licensing & regulations and modify them, if necessary to encourage Cable TV networks to provide wireline Broadband / Internet connections.

Dish Doctor
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