Switzerland’s federal department of environment, transport, energy and communications (DETEC/UVEK) has launched a consultation into the opening of a horizontal market for digital television receivers.
The proposal aims to give consumers a free selection of reception equipment and not forcing them to take a particular set-top box from their cable operator. “If the provider of digital television does not want to give up an encryption key, it should be committed to offering customers a basic range of at least 50 TV channels, which they can consume at a freely available set-top boxes,” the regulator said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the UPC-owned Cablecom, Switzerland’s largest cable operator, told Broadband TV News the cablenet had announced a review of its current strategy to exclusively rely on own set-top boxes in October last year. “To fulfil customer demand for freedom of choice, telecommunications providers will primarily need to be flexible and guarantee ease of use. As a result, cablecom is considering launching next-generation common interface modules – like many other cable companies in Europe, that in part have already taken according decisions. By making this step Cablecom is highlighting that it does not see itself as a distributoe of set-top boxes, but as a content provider.” Cablecom said a final decision is expected in the next few months, meaning that implementation could take place as early as this year, giving Cablecom customers the choice between a cablecom set-top box or digital TV via module.
UVEK plans a two-year exemption for IPTV operators, such as Swisscom TV, saying the exemption is justified for technical reasons and the absence of a set-top box market.
The consultation runs until May 10, 2010 and interested parties should send their comments to the communications regulator BAKOM.