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Wish karo: You may buy dish TV and go jingalala
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If you are unhappy with the quality of your DTH operator, do not fret. You may get to switch service provider without having to buy a new set-top box, if the Competition Commission (CCI) accedes to the demand made by a group of NGOs and consumer forums.

“Consumer forums are demanding that there should be interoperability among operators and set-top boxes should be of general specifications so that the consumer is free to change the service provider,” a senior CCI official told Financial Chronicle on conditions of anonymity.

This is the second case that CCI has received and the commission would soon discuss the approach it would take on the matter.

“No date has been fixed for the hearing. We will soon write to the DTH service providers,” the official said.

When contacted, a spokesperson for DishTV said: “It is too early to comment on this. We are still waiting for clarity on the issue.”

Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer of Tata Sky, did not respond to a text message.

This is not the first time the issue of interoperability has been raised. Earlier in a proposal to DTH services regulator Trai, the information & broadcasting ministry had proposed that DTH set-top boxes be made interoperable. The proposal met with resistance from the industry.

There are essentially two compression technologies –MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 – being used for digital TV signals broadcast by terrestrial, cable and DTH operators.

DishTV and Tata Sky services are available through MPEG-2 set-top boxes. Newer entrants such as Airtel Digital TV and Reliance Big TV use MPEG-4. There are 12 million users of DTH services, 9 million of whom get signals through the MPEG 2 technology.

Recently, DoT had approved mobile number portability while switching from one telecom operator to another. The decision is to be implemented in major cities by October 2009.

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