[Yearbook] Cable Digitization, DAS vs DTH (Direct-to Home), Set-top Box, TRAI order

SubscribeYearbook42 Comments

Mrunal's Economy Course
  1. What is the problem with 90s Cable TV system?
  2. TRAI: Cable digitalization
  3. Difference: DAS vs DTH?
  4. What is set top box (STB)?
  5. Why Jayalalitha is unhappy?
  • In the 90s era, the TV channels were sent in analog and unencrypted form. You local Cable operator would install a big white dish on his roof, receive those signals and then lay down wires to each household.
  • This is called “Analog” cable TV system. But Let’s just call it 90s Cable TV. Ok so next question, what is the

Problem with 90s Cable TV system?

#1: customer’s problem

  • It can carry up to 80-100 TV channels. (Dish TV, Tatasky etc have more than 500)
  • In this system the consumers do not have an option to choose channels/services of their choice and pay accordingly, rather they have to pay for the entire bouquet of channels offered by the cable operator.
  • Lack of quality. Generally local Cable operator would hand out connections to way too many people than his signal-capacity. So TV image quality will be poor.
  • Inconvinience: because the entire system runs on cable wires, it’d breakdown during kite-flying season, heavy-rain etc.

#2: TV channel owner’s problem

  • The local cable operator would under-report the number of customers and pocket the money.
  • E.g. if 1000 households have his cable connection and each pays Rs.50 to watch Zee TV channel monthly. Then he would only send money of 500-800 household to the Zee TV channel owner.

#3: local Cable operator’s problem

  • There is a joint house with three brothers and their separate families.
  • They’d pay for only one connection and watch three TVs in three separate rooms, because it is “unencrypted”. (This is not possible in DTH or DAS because they’re ‘encrypted’. So if you have more than one TV in your house, you’ve to pay extra money.)
  • Entry of mafia-elements, frequent territorial disputes between cable-operators, including gun-firing and supari-killings.
  • Customers don’t pay money on time, use more than one TV on same connection.

TRAI: Cable digitalization

  • To settle the problems of all three groups (customers, TV channel owners and local cable operators), the TRAI came out with new rule: “compulsory for every cable operator to show channels through a digital addressable system (DAS) in the entire country.”

Incase you wonder what is TRAI doing here? Well it regulates not only the Telecom network but also the internet, broadband, broadcasting network, cable TV, hell even FM radio.

Who gets how much? (Approximatly)

When Customers Pays Rs.100
Local Cable operators gets Rs.35
Whole-seller,known as multi-system operator or MSO. Rs.23
TV channel owner Rs.42

When it came to implementing the TRAI order for “Cable Digitization”, local Cable operator had to install Set-top boxes in each house and rewire the whole network.

Each settop box would cost about Rs.700+.

Who would pay the money?

  • Middle-class families would simply move to DTH system (tatasky, dish TV etc. because of their “portability” advantage listed after some paragraphs).
  • The lower middle-class families couldnot pay all money in one go, and couldnot afford DTH system.
  • So, they had to be given the set-top box and then collect money in ‘installments’ everymonth.
  • But local cable operators did not have that much money of their own, to install set-top boxes in 200-500 houses in their territory.
  • The (Whole-sellers) MSOs took advantage of this opportunity.
  • They made up agreements with local cable operators, under which MSOs would finance the money to install set-top box, in-lieu of local cable operator accepting the MSO as business-partner.
  • Thus local cable operator’s share is permanently. Because partnership is not like ‘business-loan’, it never ends. A business partner has to be given part of profit  forever!
  • Moral of the story: In any business, Small players are always exploited, by the big players- both domestic and foreign.

Anyways the original deadline was following

31 October 2012 Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai
31 March 2013 Cities with a population of more than 1 million
September 2014 All urban areas (municipal corporations and municipalities)
31 December 2014 Rest of India.

But now IB ministry says, “it is impossible to implement.”

Difference: DAS vs DTH?



Digital Addressable Cable TV system Direct to Home. (Tata Sky, Dish TV shahruk khan etc)
Set-top box necessary to view channels. Same
The Set Top Box used for DAS cannot be used for DTH service as technologies are different. Same
In DAS service, TV signals reach consumer through the cable network.
So it is local-cable operator->wire->customer’s home->set-topbox->TV.
in DTH service, TV channels are directly received by consumer from satellite using small dish antennas located at the customer premise.
so it is small dish @roof->set-topbox->TV.
DAS will become mandatory by Dec 2014. No cable channel can be served through Analogue format. Not mandatory. It is just a product, if you can afford and you like it, then purchase, else no worries.
DAS cable is a ground distribution network and you may have to change your operator if you move to a different place even within a city. all-India coverage. You can use the same DTH operator even if you move cities. Whatever money you had paid, stays in your account (smart-card.)
keeps working unless cable is broken or damaged. Doesn’t work in bad weather particularly when there is heavy rain and clouds.

What is set top box (STB)?

  • “Set top box” (STB) is a device.
  • It is connected to a television set so the consumer can view encrypted channels of his choice. (using smart card.)
  • The basic function of the set top box is to decrypt the channels and to convert the digital signals into analog mode for viewing on television sets.

Why Jayalalitha is unhappy?

  • In the sidelines of NDC meeting held @New Delhi in Dec 2012, Jayalalitha raised objection about DAS license.
  • Arasu Cable TV Corporation= PSU owned by Tamilnadu State Government.
  • This Arasu has applied for DAS license for Chennai City.
  • But Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (run by the totally awesome Manish Tewari) is not giving the license.
  • You’re not giving license, to protect the monopoly of SunTV network (owned by Maran Family, DMK ties= coalition partner of UPA).
IB ministry @Delhi
  • Sorry we can’t give license because Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has held that central and state governments should not be allowed to enter the “business of broadcasting”.
  • Not just governments but political bodies should also not be allowed to enter the broadcasting sector, according to TRAI order.

By the way, Under Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 it is compulsory for each operator to show (BORING) DD-1, DD-News, DD- Regional (concerned region), DD-Rajya Sabha DD-Sports, DD-Urdu, Gyandarshan and Lok-Sabha to each subscriber on its network.

advertizement shankarias coaching

Mrunal recommends

42 Comments on “[Yearbook] Cable Digitization, DAS vs DTH (Direct-to Home), Set-top Box, TRAI order”

  1. Great way to explain any topic :)Keep it up Mrunal.

  2. The only difference between the 90th era cable TV and DAS is that, DAS allows the transmission of the digital signal in encrypted form, right?

  3. By the way sir DD News is one of the best and authentic source of news for upsc exam…
    Anywayz nice article

    1. Very true…in fact in today’s time of medial sentimentalization it is the ONLY news channel worth watching.

      1. Sensationalization*

  4. Please write a article on Shome Panel report on GARR

  5. sir, in the above article it is furnished thatiaccording to TRAI order, political bodies should also not be allowed to enter the broadcasting sector, then how does the broadcasting ministry issue license to the channels run by some political parties even congress party owened channels in some states please kindly clarify

  6. mrunal sir,
    In DAS also we have to pay for all channels?
    and it monthly payment which we are giving now for analogue is same after DAS installation???
    please tell

  7. Mrunal Sir, Very very thanks to you … Kindly keep it up :) :)

  8. Good morning sir.Iread y’r post about banking regulation bill.It was in depth.I have different query.
    I am tring to joing y’r APFC int. forum since last week.But I am unable to join it with my gmail or FB ID.Password unacceptable.What should I do? Also pleasegive in depth info of current labour unrest in west bengal so that all APFC aspirants can benifit.

    Thank You.

  9. Bro plz write about CG PSC 2013
    Thanks …

  10. A lots of thaks to you for this article because i could not understand the reason behind set top box controversy.


  12. totally awesome manish tiwari….hahahhahaa

  13. Hi
    I find ur blogs very useful, though i m reading from last 3 days. Its good. Could u please write on GAAR…

  14. So how come Modi owns NaMO tv?


  16. thanx mrunal sir but m little confused…here instead of DTH ,DAS would b placed and consumer would pay only for d channels he view but sir wat abt those who at present are using free DTH services[purchased STB,instaled dish and just viewing channels provided to him at free of cost] would these people also necessarily opt for DAS…plz clarify

  17. & those “boring” channels are the ones you must be watching to crack upsc…not zee tv. May it be “bharat ek khoj” or war & peace. Coming from a guy who watches VH1 and Star world only!!!

  18. thank u sir 4 this wonderful article. it provides gr8 pleasure to oneself when he can establish and see 4 himself the connection btwn 1 distant boring-topic to another equally boring-topic. the connected entities suddenly become 1 big hot topic not-discussing which is very difficult. justifying ds position of mine, it is with gr8 enthusiasm that i continue thus(koi na bhi padhe to parwah nahi, lekin mujhe likhne do)
    the recently launched GSAT-10 carries 30 transponders(scientists dont use simple terms like antennas)..
    12 in K-band- high frequency range
    18 in C-band- low frequency range
    these A,B..K C bands are nothing but frequency ranges allotted by IEEE (us fellow engineers had a hard time as fucchas dealing with our seniors who collected funds to get us enrolled in ds society).
    lower frequency = lower power
    In order to get a good signal with C-band the dishes have to be big.these are the 1 which the cable operators have
    (not-technically speaking)the series goes as…
    channel broadcaster(sends input signal to)–to–satellite(transponder)–to–Big Dishes–to–cable lines from cable operator office—-our televisions
    earlier the signals were analogous(no codewords). Hence whoever had the BIG UGLY DISK(BUD..its on wiki!!) cud get the signal. but of course, 1 can not hide these BUDs…as such cable operators do have licenses.these licenses make them duty bound to report his number of customers and the channel owner derive some part of this profit. As stated in the article, the analogous behavior allowed cable operators to under-report. As such, channels cud only derive about 20% of their turnover from broadcasting. 80% coming from adds…(may be we can find fewer adds from now on becoz of digitalization..good news indeed!!)
    As against C-band the K-band operates in high frequency and the size of the disks are marginally small. these are the DTH dishes. GSAT-10 has 12 K-band transponders.this is very crucial to the 7 DTH providers(tata sky,shahrukh dish tv,cheap sun tv, dd direct etc). because K-band tech came later, scientist also incorporated digitization tools. the K-band signal comes coded and only a set-top box can decode the signal. it is the same as downloading a mpeg-4 file and playing it in vlc player. here the set top box is the vlc player. now the C-band is also being digitalized. thats why we need set top box at the customer end to decode them.
    DAS series goes (just copying the above described series and putting [SETtop box] at 2nd last)
    channel broadcaster(sends input signal to)–to–satellite(transponder)–to–Big Dishes–to–cable lines from cable operator office–[SETtop box]–our televisions
    old machines(old transponders in satellites 1000kms away in space) need time to get the digital tech installed. hiccups to IB ministry (atotally awesome mnish tiwari..haha..dat is the funniest part mrunal sir)

    1. thanks dear..for ur valuable information also

  19. Well explained article.I am reading this site from 3 months and read all the article.And following when ever the new article is posted.Because of this site i am able to understand newspapers, and my groups and civils material very well.Thank you and Happy new year.

  20. wish u a happy new year mrunal bhaai :)
    one humble request….
    pls revert back to the previous form of print/pdf format…
    in d above 1, itz nt possible to delete the comments at d end of each post if u r takin a print out…
    pls help….

  21. happy new year sir…

  22. important issues are being explained in very great mannered way..like it…keep on

  23. wishing you a very Happy new year sir…

  24. sir i m not so gud in computer how can see all articles for prelims 2013 articles.also separately csat 2 articles.thank u 4 ur great work.

  25. sir add more vedios regarding csat2 if possible

  26. Sir,
    is the non encrypted analogue signals could be obtained illegally by the local cable operator by setting up a dish ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *