Soon, Indian TV viewers would have the advantage of mobile portability where the consumer is free to choose the provider and switch to another one.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said in New Delhi on Wednesday that the ministry is working towards bringing in "interoperability" to the Set Top Boxes whereby customers would be able to change their service providers by just putting in a new card instead of having to buy a new Set Top Box every time.
Chairing the first meeting of the Task Force for Cable Digitisation for phases three and four at Vigyan Bhavan, the minister stressed that the customer should get full benefit of digitisation with high quality picture and good service and all at affordable prices.
Javadekar said that Phase III would be over by end 2015 and Phase IV by 2016 end.
The two phases would see the cable TV digitisation process spreading towards villages.
He said the Task Force would meet regularly with representatives of all stakeholders, including the service providers and consumers, and also monitor the progress of the digitisation.
He said the process of cable TV digitisation is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream of a Digital India and "we will go ahead full speed".
"Like the portability of the mobile phone, the viewers should also have similar options with the Set Top Boxes. They should be able to put in any card of choice (of service provider) on the Set Top Box," he said.
The Task Force is to deliberate on ways to bring in interoperability to the STBs, he added.
He also urged that STBs should be affordably priced for the benefit of the consumer.
He said that domestic manufacturers can produce the boxes at competitive rates with the telecom ministry having declared the equipment as Telecom Network Equipment.
He said with this move, for which he said Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had moved very fast to get it done, the manufacturers would get a level playing field with the foreign manufacturers. For phases I and II, the STBs had been mostly imported.
Javadekar said that 16 crore TV sets would have been digitized by the end of the fourth phase.
Under the earlier plan for digitization, the third phase was to end by September this year and the fourth phase by Dec 31, 2014.
The total number of TV households in India is around 160 million. The first and second phases of cable digitization covered all the metros and 38 cities with a population of over one million.