Will STB price dip in India as TRAI suggests interoperability?

TRAI has recommended that all DTH and cable Set-top-boxes (STBs) provided to the television customers must support interoperability.
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Industry estimates that 197 million households in India had TV sets.

The global set-top-box market will generate revenue of nearly $25 billion by 2022, according to the Technavio’s market research.

ARRIS, HUMAX, Technicolor, Broadcom, Huawei Technologies, ABOX42, ADB, among others, are the top STB makers in the world.

Through Interoperability, the same STB can be used interchangeably across different DTH or Cable TV Networks. Currently, STBs deployed by cable networks are non-interoperable in India.

The TRAI report indicates that interoperability of STBs will result into commoditization of STBs. Manufacturers of STBs will become more innovative and customers will have more choice to select their DTH operators.

Non-interoperability of STBs has huge financial implications. More than 54 million STBs are lying idle or unused in DTH segment alone mainly due to non-interoperability of STBs.

Considering an initial capital expenditure around $25 per STB, $1350 million capital is lying unused in DTH segment since the inactive STBs cannot be used for reception of services of the other operator.

“The lack of interoperability of STBs between different service providers not only deprives customer of the freedom to change his/her service provider but also creates a hindrance to technological innovation, improvement in service quality and the overall sector growth,” TRAI said.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should make amendments in licensing and registrations conditions or the Cable Act to make it mandatory, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said. The regulator said there should be mandatory availability of USB port based Common Interface in all Digital TVs sets.

TRAI has also recommended that the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), should make suitable amendments in specified standards for STBs. DTH and MSO players should be given a time for six months to adopt DVB CI+ 2.0 standards (with USB CAM) in line with the ETSI standards.

TRAI has suggested setting up a co-ordination committee consisting of members of MIB, MeitY, BIS and TRAI and industry representatives to steer the implementation and adaptation of amended standards for DTH STBs, Cable STBs and digital Television sets in a time-bound manner.