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Soon, switch over to any DTH firm
New Delhi: Mobile number portability remains a distant dream but DTH portability will become a reality in the next few weeks. DTH portability—also called interoperability—will enable consumers to change their DTH operators without changing their DTH set-top box (STB).

DTH portability will need an add-on hardware called CAM, or conditional access module, a small, mobile phone-sized device that will cost Rs 900 or one-third the cost of buying a new direct-to-home connection.

A new DTH connection now comes with proprietary STB and an antenna of the service provider. To switch over to another DTH operator, a DTH subscriber will have to buy a new STB and antenna all over again. But under DTH portability, consumers will only have to buy a CAM that can be plugged into their existing DTH box to get signals of another service provider.

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Taking the lead here is Dish TV, which would make the commercial launch of CAM shortly, to lure discontented subscribers of rivals operators.

Industry experts say, out of every 100 DTH subscribers, at least 4-6 are not happy with their operators. Considering there are currently 20 million DTH subscribers and the number slated to cross the 30 million this year, CAM will throw up new business opportunities for all DTH operators.

Dish TV is doing a final round testing of its two CAM variants, of which one variant will be chosen to sell through its dealer-distributor network, a source said. The Dish TV CAM is working on the STB’s of Sun Direct (DTH service of Sun Network), Videocon D2H (DTH service of Videocon) and DD Direct Plus (DTH of Doordarshan), sources said.

Other DTH players are also expected to launch CAM after the matter came under the purview of the Competition Commission of India, which has supported commercial interoperability of DTH boxes. Sources said even the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, which also functions as the broadcast sector regulator, favours commercial interoperability of DTH boxes. “Interoperability is mandated in the DTH licensing norms. We are giving a choice to the DTH subscribers of other services to come on Dish TV platform using their existing DTH boxes by simply buying our CAM. We hope all DTH operators offer this choice to the consumers, going forward,” says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV. While the DTH portability will give a choice to subscribers, it may add to the woes of DTH operators already losing money, thanks to the high subscriber acquisition cost. “Through CAM, we will also save the high cost involved in acquiring a new subscriber,” a Dish TV executive said. Technical experts say CAMs will fit into any existing DTH box irrespective of the service providers because the slot for an add-on CAM is mandated by law.
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