Hence, in its recommendations (31st Jan 2017) to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), the telecom regulator of the country TRAI has proposed the implementation of DTT services in 3 phases:
Phase 1 will cover metro cities and DTT implementation will be achieved by 31st Dec 2019
Phase 2 will cover cities having more than 10 lakh population as per 2011 census and DTT implementation to be achieved by 31st Dec 2021
Phase 3 will cover rest of India by 31st Dec 2023
Trai also said in its recommendations that a minimum overlap of 3 months must be provided as simulcast period for migration from analogue to digital platform before analogue switch off. Other salient features of these recommendations are:
Private players should be permitted to provide DTT services along with DD to ensure plurality and competition in the market. Private participation will also bring in investment and speed up the digitisation process, thereby benefitting the consumers by providing variety of TV channels and value added services (VAS).
A comprehensive frequency planning can be done by I&B in consultation with the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Department of Telecommunications, and other technical agency such as the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL).
Maximum number of DTT providers may be capped at 5 which should include 1 broadcaster and 4 private broadcasters at a particular place as per availability of spectrum.
As a matter of fact, TRAI had issued a consultation paper on ‘issues related digital terrestrial broadcasting in India’ on 24th June 2016 with a view to review the existing terrestrial TV broadcasting scenario for implementation of DTT across the country. After examining all the issues emerging from the comments of the stakeholders, open house discussion and international practices, Trai drafted these recommendations.
Trai also recommended that a coordination committee may be set up by I&B to steer implementation of DTT as a mission mode project to ensure creation of a facilitating environment and timely completion of DTT.
Presently, terrestrial broadcasting can be done only by Prasar Bharati which runs DD and is primarily analog. DD has DTT service in 16 cities and is now planning to expand it to 3 more cities by March 2017 and 44 other cities in the next 2 years.
Since today, people are mostly mobile and want to consume high quality and uninterrupted TV content on their preferred devices, DTT will come as a boon to the sector and may contribute towards consumer empowerment like never before.