Things to Know About DTH Portability to Help You Switch

dth portability

From December 2019 onwards, TRAI brought in some great news about the interoperability of DTH services. With the onset of these regulations, DTH portability has been made feasible. Now changing one chip is all that is required to switch to a new DTH service provi


TRAI announcement

As per TRAI regulation, One Set Top Box is enough to watch shows of every DTH Operator. Back in 2019, RS Sharma, TRAI chairman had stated that interoperability of DTH and also cable services would be made possible, all over India. Users would be able to use a common set-top box and would not have to switch their DTH operator.

The abbreviation TRAI stands for Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Dish Freedom- DishTV plan change

Among the various DTH service providers, Dish TV has been the first to start implementing this operation. The Dish Freedom Pack has been introduced which allows DTH portability.

What is Dish Freedom?

Any idea what Dish Freedom is? Dish Freedom is a CAM card - Conditional Access Module card which a subscriber can insert into the card slot of any set-top box. Once the CAM card has been inserted, the existing Dish Antenna has to be realigned and tuned to the Dish TV frequency.

Dish Freedom -Price details

The Dish Freedom CAM device can be availed at Rs 990/- upfront. There is an annual recharge price of Rs 450/- included in this pack. However, all the Dish TV channels will not be available.

The downside of DTH portability

Currently, the main downside is that although the hassle of switching DTH operators is avoided, the cost of the CAM device is much higher. Most of the basic set-top boxes are priced at lower costs. So subscribers have not been actively drawn into this option as of now. We will have to wait and see how the response is going to be from DTH subscribers in the coming few years to give a solid opinion about the feasibility of DTH portability. Whether d2h plan changes, Airtel Digital TV plan changes etc will become a possibility is something we have to wait and see.

A likely solution

During our research, our team found that some experts share the opinion that costs can be brought down considerably if DTH operators resort to techniques that involve sharing infrastructure. Scarce resources like satellites etc can be used more effectively with the sharing concept. This will effectively reduce the cost borne by subscribers.

TRAI recommendations on set-top boxes interoperability

We have seen the available options for DTH portability. Now it's time to do a little time travel to see what our future possibilities are. TRAI recommendations give us a fairly good idea of what is in the near future. SO here goes a summary of what TRAI, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, had to say about DTH portability.

Observations

As per TRAI, all DTH service providers should support interoperability. The same applies to Cable operators as well. TRAI has requested the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to enforce this as a regulation.

TRAI has made it very clear that Set-top boxes of Cable TV operators and DTH service providers cannot be interchanged. DTH and Cable Set-Top boxes are not interoperable.

With the new rules in place, subscribers will be able to switch between DTH operators without having to change their set-top box. There will be no need to buy a new Set-top-box just because you are switching to a different Service provider.

Another recommendation from TRAI is to have mandatory provision for USB port-based interfaces common to all the digital TV sets within India.

Apart from subscriber's inconvenience, the lack of DTH portability is also a major hindrance to technical advancement.

TRAI is conferring to set up a committee to study the various possibilities. The members will have representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards ), TRAI and of course representatives of Television manufacturers.

Wrapping Up

We are yet to get more profound information on how to change DTH operators. DTH portability at lower rates is a much-awaited service that many subscribers are looking forward to. Existing DTH portability guidelines are likely to be studied to look into new possibilities which are user friendly and affordable at the same time. Meanwhile, DTH Service providers have to stay on top of their games to face competition from OTT services and other online live video streaming services.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I have been with Tata Sky for a while now. Would like to try Airtel DTH services. Is it possible to switch to Airtel?

This is something a lot of subscribers have asked us. However, as per current norms, you cannot switch between DTH operators right now. DTH portability is something that is being discussed by regulatory authorities. The possibility of portability is in the near future. As of now, While buying a DTH connection, it is clearly stated that the Dish and set-top box belong solely to the service provider.

I need to change my DTH service provider. But I don’t want to buy a new dish or set-top box. Can I do this?

TRAI is looking at the possibility of introducing interoperability between DTH service providers as well as cable operators. As of now, this hasn't become functional. So you cannot change a DTH service provider and keep the old set-top box. It would have to be returned and you will have to purchase a new Set-top-box from the new service provider.

What is the latest rule on DTH service?

TRAI has revised DTH service rules effective March 2020 stating that more channels are to be offered at lower prices. The free channels at NCF (Network Capacity Fee) Rs 130/- are now 200, when earlier it was 100 channels.

I would like to port my Dish TV. What are the methods available?

DTH portability has been in discussion for a long time. For now, Dish TV gives you the option to switch to the Dish network by taking the DISH freedom pack. Dish TV is, among the current DTH service providers, the only provider offering this option.

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