India cracks set-top box encryption tech

India’s first home-grown conditional access system (CAS) for set-top boxes, that allows television broadcasters to offer programmes on subscription basis has been jointly built by ByDesign, a Bengaluru-based software firm, and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

The indigenous platform used in cable set-top boxes will bring down the cost of such boxes for manufacturers by as much as Rs 100 for each device. Globally, there are around four to five providers for CAS who charge royalty of $ 2 (Rs 130) per device from manufacturers.

“The normal cost for CAS is about 2-3 dollars per licence. They will make available at half a dollar to domestic manufacturer, so there will be a saving of one and a half to two dollars in the CAS for Indian manufacturers,” said Ajay Kumar, additional secretary at the department of electronics and information technology (DietY).

has mandated to license the technology to Indian manufacturers for a royalty of $0.5 (Rs 33) for a period of three years.

The CAS essentially encrypts information at the broadcasters-end and then decrypts it at the user-end, allowing only users with key to view channels. It allows broadcasters either on cable or direct to home providers to offer specific programmes for a fee.

“One of the conditions is that ByDesign has to integrate with five broadcasters and 2.5 lakh homes commercially. So apart from our testing, there will be a market testing, because broadcasters are not going to integrate if they think there is going to be compromise,” added Kumar.

The government of India, under the ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign, envisions the manufacturing of set-top-boxes in the country to be a $ 10-billion industry by 2020. At present, India imports four of five set-top boxes. Today, the market for set-top boxes in India is worth $ 750 million, with locally manufactured devices contributing between 23-24 per cent of value.

By reducing the cost of CAS, the government hopes Indian manufacturers will be able to  compete better  with importers on price, promoting more to setup local manufacturing units.

“Today, locally we are in a position to only meet 20 per cent of the demand, the rest we’re importing. Developing an indigenous CAS will be a great initiative in terms of filling the gaps in the ecosystem and supply chain. Local production, with the kind of scale the Government is visualising, there will be a significant drop in price (of set-top-boxes),” said MN Vidyashankar, President of the India Electronics and Semiconductor

Source: Business Standard

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