MIB mulls mandatory Aadhaar verification for purchasing DTH equipment

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation paper on Know Your Customer (KYC) of DTH Set Top Boxes. 

TRAI received a reference from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) dated December 27, 2018, wherein TRAI has been requested to give its considered recommendations on desirability or otherwise of KYC for Set Top Boxes in DTH services and, if desirable, then the process for the same. 

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MIB also mentioned in its letter that “The DTH equipment may be sold to the customers only after filling of KYC form by them and verification done according to Aadhaar Card. As in mobiles, the location-based services (LBS) needs to be made active in DTH set top boxes to check their location in accordance with customer ID/ Card ID.”

Further, vide letter no.8/10/2018-BP&L dated March 26, 2019, MIB provided information regarding the safeguards that can be applied for restricting smuggling of DTH equipment illegally to other countries, which included:

  • Filling of KYC form and verification of Aadhar Card may be mandatory for any customer purchasing DTH equipment. In order to check location in accordance with customer ID / Card ID, location-based services need to be made active in DTH Set-Top-Boxes. 
  • The DTH operators may be asked to operate on satellites having coverage in India only. They can block the services of the identified foreign customer for which checking of KYC and physical verification of DTH boxes of each subscriber may be carried out on regular interval. 
  • GPS enabled Set-top-Box (STB) with geo-fencing to Indian coordinates only may be used to restrict the illegal DTH run in other countries. 
  • MIB and TRAI may prepare KYC verification process to ensure that STB used by Indian DTH operators are only working in India. 
  • There is a need to bring down dependence on foreign satellites. 

The consultation paper seeks the comments of various organisations, industry bodies, DTH operators, standardisation bodies, STB manufacturers, software providers, stakeholders, experts, individuals, etc., so that suitable mechanism of KYC for DTH Set Top Boxes can be finalised. Written comments on the consultation paper can be submitted by August 19, 2019, while counter comments can be submitted by September 2, 2019. 

At present, for DTH, there is no verification process in place to cross-check whether the address filled in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and the actual address where the STB is installed is the same or changed by the consumer since not in all cases, whenever the subscriber changes his address, gets captured and updated in the CRM. 

DTH operators are following a physical Customer Application Form (CAF) process to be filled by subscribers before subscribing TV services. Use of CAF in paper format is prevalent and manual process is followed for updating information in the SMS. The process of millions of physical CAFs and their storage creates storage difficulties. However, TRAI had issued an advisory to all the DPOs for use of electronic Customer Application Form (e-CAF) on February 5, 2016 to bring efficiencies in the process of providing and managing services to the subscribers and easier storage of millions of CAFs resulting in less operational costs. 


Issues for Consultation: 

  1. Is there a need for KYC or e-KYC of DTH Set Top Boxes to address the concern raised by MIB? 
  1. What process is to be followed? 
  1. Whether one-time KYC is enough at the time of installation or verification is required to be done on periodic basis to ensure its actual location? If yes, what should be the periodicity of such verification? 
  1. Whether KYC of the existing DTH STBs is also required to be done along with the new DTH STBs? If yes, how much time should be given for verifying the existing STBs for DTH? 
  1. Whether the location-based services (LBS) needs to be incorporated in the DTH set top boxes to track its location? Will there be any cost implication? 
  1. Any other issue relevant to KYC of DTH Set Top Boxes?

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