India Embarks On Digital TV Consultation Process

Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016

Public broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) is currently India’s sole terrestrial broadcaster, with a network of 1,412 analogue transmitters providing two national and over 20 regional free-to-air (FTA) TV channels.

“With the advent of digital media and alternate digital distribution platforms, customers today expect a better viewing experience and increase number of TV channels even on the terrestrial transmission network. These days most content production takes place in a digital environment and it is consumed on various devices in diverse environment. In order to meet consumer expectations and ensure
optimum utilisation of resources, digital terrestrial transmission of TV signals is the need of the hour,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in its consultation paper.

Through the consultation, TRAI is asking stakeholders how DTT should be introduced and whether private concerns should be allowed to participate in the process. Technical details concerning whether a DTT network should be MFN, SFN or hybrid, and the optimum size and number of multiplex are also under consultation, as is the frequency to be used for transmitting digital terrestrial services such as mobile TV. Designing a roadmap for analogue switch-off is also part of this process.

Stakeholders have until 22 July 2016 to respond to TRAI with counter comments by 5 August 2016.

There are 869 private satellite TV channels currently permitted by India’s Ministry of Broadcasting, in addition to 26 TV channels broadcast by DD. TRAI says these are accessed by about 100 million cable TV subscribers, 58.5 million pay direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV subscribers, and about 18 million consumers using by FTA DTH.

The Government-mandated nationwide digitisation of India’s vast cable TV network is set for completion by December 2016. Meanwhile, efforts to digitise India’s terrestrial networks begun in the year 2000 have long since stalled. “DTT transmitters using DVB-T technology were installed in each of the four metro cities. This expansion could not continue as enabling ecosystem could not be developed,” said TRAI. This time, with the introduction of private partners, appropriate set-top boxes and other DTT related equipment could be developed, the regulator believes.


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