Set-top boxes (STBs) are likely to become cheaper as an indigenously-developed solution for conditional access system (CAS) will be made available to domestic manufacturers at less than half the current prices.
Domestic CAS licences will be provided for around Rs. 32 or $0.5, compared to the current market cost of $2-3 (roughly Rs. 132 - Rs. 200) per licence. The average cost of one STB is in the range of Rs. 800 to Rs. 1,200.
According to an official in Communications and IT Ministry, the indigenous CAS has been developed by state-run C-DAC along with a Bangalore-based firm ByDesign.
"The developer will make available Indian CAS to all domestic manufacturers of STBs and operators at not more than $0.5 per licence," the official said.
The total cost of the project is Rs. 29.99 crores, of which Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) will contribute Rs. 19.79 crores, while ByDesign will provide the rest.
C-DAC, which falls under DeitY, undertakes research and development in the field of IT, electronics and associated areas. The official said that the project will soon be flagged off for commercial implementation.
In order to boost domestic manufacturing, the government had declared STBs as telecom network equipment, a move that will help domestic manufacturers produce them at more competitive prices by availing tax exemptions.
The government had earlier set a target to digitise the cable sector in the country by the end of 2015. However, the target was not met.