Universal DTT box hits problems

A glitch has hit Spain’s project to develop a set-top box which will be interoperable between all the country’s DTT projects.

There are two models for the market of pay-DTT boxes: the horizontal and the vertical. Spain's government is trying to push the market towards a horizontal one. So the Ministry of Industry and the manufacturers members of the Association of Companies for the Information and Technologies (AETIC) will develop a common pay DTT box.

AETIC's members are developing a working group in which there will be those companies specialized in electronics for developing a standard for a universal decoder which will be compatible with the future pay DTT in this country. The project also includes other advanced DTT services such as the HDTV and interactivity.

But on the interactivity the problem is that as Spain has adopted the MHP standard it will be expensive to implement in set-tops. Manufacturers are unhappy about paying for the corresponding royalties. This situation, together with the fact the broadcasters are not pushing ahead with interactive TV mean that the development of the interactive side of the box looks uncertain.

Another important problem comes from the fact some CA developers want to implant their own system through the vertical business model rather than the horizontal one. For instance, prospective operator Dahlia TV has already chosen Conax for its CA system.

The project will be ready by the end of June. One of the group's main goals is that the set-top’s technical specifications have the highest compatibility with those DTT boxes already in Spanish homes.

According to AETIC's president Jesús Banegas "with this move we try to avoid a scenario in which the broadcasters use different boxes.”