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TRAI seeks views on amending licence conditions to enable infra sharing


30 Sep 2012
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MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of
India ( TRAI) has sought the views of
stakeholders on amending licence conditions of
multi-system operators (MSOs), headend-in-the-
sky (HITS) and direct-to-home (DTH) operators,
to enable infrastructure sharing among different
distribution platform operators (DPOs).
The registration conditions of MSOs that
mandate that the MSO shall have an independent
digital headend of their own and provide digital
addressable cable TV services from its own
headend need to be amended to make
infrastructure sharing feasible, TRAI has said.
Similarly, the licensing guidelines for HITS may
also require some amendment to permit the
HITS operator to offer its platform for utilisation
by other MSOs to reach their LCOs. Other
registration/licensing conditions of MSOs/HITS
players may also require suitable amendments to
enable infrastructure sharing.

At present, to apply for a DTH licence one has to
specify the satellite capacity which a potential
DTH operator proposes to use and provide a
satellite capacity lease agreement. Satellite
capacity is today authorised on the DTH licensee
after paying the applicable spectrum fees.
In its consultation paper on ‘Infrastructure
sharing in broadcasting TV distribution sector’,
TRAI has stated that there is a possibility of
infrastructure sharing between MSOs and HITS
operators and among MSOs. It has also observed
that DTH operators can share infrastructure
among themselves. However, it has ruled out
infrastructure sharing between DTH and MSOs/
HITS operators.

TRAI has said that HITS networks are similar to
digital cable TV networks, their only difference
being the mode of transmission of signal from
the headend to the node installed in the local
cable operator (LCO).

The consultation paper follows the pre-
consultation paper that was issued in May to
solicit stakeholders’ views on issues related to
sharing of infrastructure so that all likely issues
can be identified before initiating consultation
with the stakeholders.

In their responses to the pre-consultation paper,
the stakeholders opined that infrastructure
sharing will require changes in the agreement
entered by the DPOs with the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO), Network
Operation and Control Center (NOCC), Wireless
Planning Commission (WPC), teleports, etc.

TRAI has asked stakeholders to provide
comments on specific amendments that are
required in the cable TV Act and Rules besides
the MSO registration conditions and HITS
licensing guidelines, to enable sharing of
infrastructure among MSOs.

It has also asked DTH operators about the
specific amendments required to the guidelines
for obtaining licence for providing DTH
broadcasting service to enable sharing of
infrastructure among DTH operators.

The MIB had sent a reference dated 29 April to
TRAI, requesting the authority to examine the
issue of the infrastructure sharing by MSOs,
LCOs and HITS operators in consultation with all
the stakeholders.

According to TRAI, HITS networks can be
effectively utilised by different MSOs for
transmitting the signals of TV channels to their
linked LCOs. Such sharing becomes more
relevant when an MSO wants to distribute signals
of TV channels to a place that is far from its
headends, it added.

The move will lead to optimisation of operational
costs, which may ultimately benefit the end
subscribers in the form of reduced prices with
the same quality of service. It may also lead to
separation of networks and services.
Dual model for infra sharing between MSOs and
HITS operators
TRAI has suggested two models through which
MSOs can share the infrastructure of a HITS

One way of sharing the HITS network
infrastructure with the MSOs could be using the
HITS network infrastructure for down-linking the
signals of TV channels and integrated receiver
decoders (IRDs) available with the HITS operator
for each channel.

The base band signal of such TV channels are
then encoded and multiplexed in the headend of
the HITS operator before re-transmission. The
multiplexed streams of the channels aggregated
by the HITS operator are shared by multiple

The multiplex streams can be uplinked after
carrying out encryption by same or different
CASs as per agreement between the HITS
operator and the MSOs.

In this manner, a HITS network can be shared by
multiple MSOs, as a multiplexed stream of TV
channels can be simulcrypted using eight
different CASs, as per DVB simulcrypt standards.

In this mode of infrastructure sharing, there
could be savings in the CAPEX and OPEX for
operators, TRAI has stated.

In this model, an MSO can have interconnection
agreement with multiple broadcasters for
commercial settlements and use the multiplexed
streams of the TV channels aggregated by the
HITS operator for re-transmission. The MSO may
use its own CAS and SMS, or it can share any
one or both of these infrastructure elements also
with the HITS operator.

For provisioning disconnection and security of
the content, a suitable mechanism needs to be
evolved through this consultation, the authority
has said.

Another model suggested by TRAI involves the
MSO using its own infrastructure for down-linking
the signals of TV channels through the IRDs
provided to it by each broadcaster and
multiplexing them in its own headend before re-

Such multiplexed streams of the channels are
made available by the MSO to the HITS operator
for further re-transmission to the linked LCOs of
that MSO only. In this way, the HITS network is
used as a transmission system only and
addresses the issues relating to non-availability
and cost of optical fibre infrastructure.

However, the authority has observed that this
model does not take advantage of the fact that a
large number of satellite TV channels re-
transmitted by each operator are common across
multiple MSOs in a relevant market and,
therefore, the satellite transponders cannot be
optimally utilised due to the transmission of
signals of same channel in different streams.
The sharing of infrastructure among MSOs and
HITS operators, and among MSOs, using the first
model may also solve the issues relating to
limited or practically ‘nil’ competition in the last-
mile access of the cable TV networks.

With the help of simulcrypt technology and
sharing of common transport stream, the signals
of multiple operators can be distributed through a
single coaxial cable TV network.

Depending on the number of an LCO’s
interconnection agreements with MSOs and HITS
operators, multiple options of choosing distributor
may become practicable for customers.

The authority has asked stakeholders to provide
comments whether there is a need to enable
infrastructure sharing among MSOs and HITS
operators, or among MSOs and, if yes, what
would be the preferable model.

DTH infra sharing
Currently, every DTH operator transmits
approximately 350–450 SD TV channels and
around 50 HD channels on its platforms. More
than 80% channels are common across the DTH

In this scenario, TRAI noted that enabling sharing
of satellite transponders and earth station
facilities, which may include the headend, CAS
and SMS, may reduce entry barriers and the
CAPEX and OPEX of operators.

By the sharing of infrastructure among multiple
DTH operators, the multiplexed streams of
common channels aggregated by a DTH operator
are shared by multiple DTH operators.

Platform-specific channels/services unique for
each DTH operator can be multiplexed into
separate streams and transmitted using
additional transponder space on the same or
adjoining satellite, TRAI has stated.

The multiplexed streams can be uplinked after
carrying out encryption by the same or different
CASs as per the agreement between them.
Sharing of satellite transponders among multiple
DTH operators may address the issues relating
to shortage of transponder space that sometimes
necessitates the disproportionate compression of
TV channel signals, resulting in degraded viewing
experience for consumers, the authority stated.

However, the sharing of satellite capacity is
possible only when the multiplexed streams have
the same encoding and modulation standards.
Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky and Videocon d2h have
the same encoding and modulation standards
H.264 and DVB-S2, while Reliance Digital TV and
Sun Direct share the same encoding and
modulation standards of H.264 and DVB-S. Dish
TV is the only platform to have MPEG-2 and
DVB-S encoding and modulation.

The authority has sought stakeholders’
comments on whether infrastructure sharing is
required among DTH operators.

Other issues for consultation
TRAI has sought views whether there is a
requirement to ensure geographically targeted
advertisements in the distribution networks, as
some broadcasters have opined that geo-
targeted advertisements may not be feasible in
infrastructure sharing.

TRAI has also sought views on the possible
methods for enabling geo-targeted
advertisements in shared infrastructure set-ups.
Stakeholders can also give their views on the
mechanisms that could be put in place for
disconnection of TV channel signals of defaulting
operators without affecting the other operators
within that network after implementation of
sharing of infrastructure.

Further, stakeholders can also clarify if there is
any requirement for tripartite agreement to
enable sharing of infrastructure among MSOs
and HITS operators, among MSOs, and among
DTH operators.

TRAI has solicited comments on techniques that
could be put in place for identification of pirates
and if there is any need for further strengthening
of anti-piracy measures already in place to
enable sharing of infrastructure.

Written comments on the consultation paper are
invited from the stakeholders by 21 October and
counter-comments, if any, may be submitted by
4 November.

TRAI seeks views on amending licence conditions to enable infra sharing among cable, HITS and DTH ops | TelevisionPost.com


14 Feb 2012
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This is all good. But what about dth portability? Dth monthly prices are rising fast and only portability can make some price war competition. With digitisation almost complete, no one should should have an issue with this.
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