Pehla switching to new encryption tech
Manama, January 25, 2011
Pirate satellite broadcasters and their customers in Bahrain are being dealt another major blow, with Asian programme provider Pehla switching to new encryption technology in a matter of weeks.
It is following in the footsteps of UAE broadcaster Orbit Showtime Network (OSN), which uses new technology that makes it impossible for pirate operators to crack the encrypted signals.
'All Pehla subscribers in Bahrain are being given new set-top boxes that use the Viaccess technology,' said Pehla's Bahrain distributor Satlink general manager Om Ramchandani.
'These will replace the earlier Irdeto technology employed in boxes subscribers already have.
'For a few weeks, until all boxes are replaced, we will offer parallel services in both Viaccess and Irdeto, but the latter will soon be phased out.'
He said the whole migration process should be completed in March, but a firm date would be announced soon.
However, Ramchandani revealed coverage of the cricket World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - which starts on February 19 - would only be available through the Viaccess technology.
Pehla offers premium Indian and Pakistani entertainment to thousands of subscribers in Bahrain and other GCC countries, with packages starting from BD7.3 a month.
'As we move on, we will be offering more and more channels and better technology,' added Ramchandani.
Pirate satellite customers have been unable to watch OSN since December 19 and an illegal Dreambox operator admitted yesterday that Pehla services had been 'very erratic' over the last few weeks. 'It looks like we are going to lose Pehla from our servers as well after OSN went off more than a month ago,' he said. However, he added that pirate broadcasters were still trying to crack the new encrypted services.
'We are already looking at the very modern new technology and are trying to get round it,' he said.
The Dreambox system relies on the users linking their receivers to the Internet, which it uses to download codes to unscramble satellite signals.
If the system is prevented from accessing websites that provide the necessary codes, officials say the receiver will not be able to unscramble or display the channel.
A crackdown on Dreambox was launched in October 2009 when the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), in collaboration with the then Culture and Information Ministry, instructed the country's 17 Internet Service Providers to block IP addresses of illegal operators.
But within two months the TRA admitted the plan had stalled.-TradeArabia News Service