DTH service provider Dish TV has launched Dish Freedom, a Conditional Access Module (CAM) that can be fitted into set-top boxes of other DTH providers, allowing customers to watch free-to-air TV and radio channels from Doordarshan’s DD Direct service and 16 selected channels from Dish TV, under the freedom pack, reports The Economic Times. The channels that are available from Dish TV include Zee network channels such as Zee News, Zing, Zee Punjabi, Zee Tamil and others. However it does not include Zee TV and Zee Cinema.

The CAM module is priced at Rs 990 and includes 12 months subscription to the freedom pack, worth Rs 600. After the subscription expires, customers can recharge their connection for Rs 250 for 6 months or Rs 400 for an year. According to Dish TV, the device will work on all BIS compliant set-top boxes that have a CAM slot, irrespective of the DTH operator using MPEG2 or MPEG4 decompression technology.

Portability?

Although, the company claims that the device will give consumers the freedom to choose their DTH operator, we are not sure if customers will be able to switch to services provided by DTH providers other than Dish TV using this module. Also, the Dish TV customer care informed us that we will not be able to watch any additional Dish TV channels, other than the ones provided in the Freedom Pack. According to Dish TV, it wants to target Inactive DTH subscribers with this product.

– This means that the device only allows access to some free to air channels, and selected regional channels and charges an yearly/half-yearly rental for the same.  Why not give access to just free channels, and get rid of the rental?

– We don’t understand why Dish TV can not allow customers who buy its CAM to purchase its Viewing Card (VC) and access the complete network?

– Why can’t all DTH providers allow access to free channels and sell set-top boxes with a CAM pre-installed? Also, why lock subscribers via proprietary software to get access to the free channels on the same satellite?

– The price point of Dish TV’s Freedom device is ridiculous, since most DTH providers are selling new boxes at this price, along with some free viewing. We don’t think this device will do well unless Dish gives access to its complete network and reduce the price of this device.

– The TRAI has mandated all DTH providers to use Open Architecture (non-proprietary) Set Top Boxes, which will ensure technical compatibility and effective interoperability among different DTH service providers but interoperabilty is extremely complicated since each DTH provider not just uses different compression standards but also different encryption systems. For example Dish uses Conax while Tata Sky uses Videoguard (source: Lyngsat). So developing a module that can support all systems will be difficult.