1 million Motorola STBs Set Top Boxes recalled in USA

December, 30, 2003 Updated: 03:42 am
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This story - first published in the Pioneer (New Delhi) edition on 30th-December-2003 is where noted Consumer Activist Sarbajit Roy has also shown how the HUMAX Korea ND-1000C Digital Cable Set Top Box for CAS (Conditional Access System for Cable Television) is unsafe and do not meet the BIS Standard - which is mandatory. The ruling right wing Hindu BJP party had attempted to force citizens of New Delhi to compulsorily purchase these dangerous and explosive set top boxes.
The Pioneer Reporter Abraham Thomas is well respected in press circles for his factual accurate reporting and attention to detail
This story in the Pioneer was the last nail in the coffin of CAS.
STBs don't meet BIS norms

Abraham Thomas/ New Delhi

The Set-Top boxes (STBs) available at your nearest cable operator may be attractively-priced but they do not fit the proposed Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications.
The STBs available with the multi-system operators (MSOs) do not meet the operational temperature and electricity requirements of BIS as specified for the digital set-top boxes. Since these factors decide the safety of any electronic equipment, failing to meet them can prove hazardous to human life when used at homes.

The Humax technology used by Hathway Cable, specifies that the STB has a voltage intake range of 90-250V AC while the range mentioned for such STBs by BIS is between 90-270 V.

The other aspect is its operational temperature range. As per the BIS norms, a STB must have the capacity to operate in adverse conditions - between 0-50 degree Celcius. This is derived after the STB is made to undergo dry heat test of the severity of 55 degree Centigrade, damp heat test and a cold test for the STB to withstand -10 degree temperatures. Humidity range of five to 95 per cent is also specified.

However, Hathway's ND-1000 C and CX-1201 C models operate at 0-45 degrees. They, however, have shown that the STBs could be stored at temperatures ranging between -10 degree and 70 degrees Celcius, which is insignificant. The humidity specifications for the same are not indicated.

Experts dealing with electronic goods claim that BIS specifies high temperature range bearing in mind the inherent hazards. "All domestic appliances draw power supply between 220 to 260 V. Obviously, if an appliance is slated to draw power till a maximum of 250 V (as in the case of the available STBs), they will get heated quickly increasing possibilities of a short-circuit," claimed Sarbajit Roy, an advisor with a reputed electronic firm.

Moreover, these instruments having metal covering get heated up quickly. Also, there is a Line Filter Capacitor (LFC) fitted in the STBs which are placed so close to the metal top that if pressed, the current running through the LFC is enough to provide a shock 20 times more than what can kill a person, Mr Roy added.

To ward off these dangers, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had set up Broadcasting Engineers Consultants India Limited (BECIL), as an authority to certify the STBs. This team had even visited the Korean firms to evaluate the STBs. But none of them could suit Indian standards since the power input range in Delhi's household is high as compared to USA or Canada where it is only upto 120 V. Moreover, even the BIS has accepted that there is no global standards set for evaluating STBs.

Hathway's Northern India (Sales) Head S N Sharma said, "Our STBs have been seen and certified by the government." Responding to the potential hazards due to the failing standards of STBs as against BIS, Mr Sharma said, "If the boxes were this dangerous, they will not have been approved by the government at the first place." Though the I&B Ministry has cleared the STBs, the BIS is yet to respond on the credibility of these boxes.

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