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End game for Dreambox operators in Bahrain

Manama, December 1, 2010

Pirate satellite broadcasters and their customers in Bahrain could be dealt a major blow as one of the region's biggest satellite services switches to new technology to cut off illegal suppliers.

Thousands of Dreambox users will no longer be able to watch programmes on the Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) from December 19, according to officials.

A spokeswoman told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) the company had almost finished a 'swap project' of all OSN users' set top boxes.

'This process is ongoing all over the region, including in Bahrain,' she said.

'This means all old set top boxes are being replaced with 'silicone-secure' boxes, which are impossible to crack.

'From December 19, no-one watching OSN programmes illegally will be able to receive the signals because the new technology in these boxes cannot be cracked.'

The spokeswoman said Dreambox operators earlier took connections from OSN and then used those after cracking to offer OSN services to their subscribers.

'That will not happen now,' she said.

An illegal Dreambox operator admitted it might be the end of the road for him and countless others as far as OSN signals were concerned.

'However, we shall see how to get around it once the new technology is implemented,' he said.

'It looks quite formidable but we shall have a closer look later. We may still be able to find a way around it.'

The Dreambox system relies on the user linking the receiver to an Internet connection, 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 last year when the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), in collaboration with the Information Affairs Authority, instructed all 17 Internet service Providers (ISP's) to block IP addresses of illegal operators.

But, within two months, the TRA admitted the plan had failed with information communication technology (ICT) adviser on Internet security Nick Truman saying there had been no headway in blocking illegal services.

A TRA spokesman yesterday said they were not involved in the latest crackdown.

'We were, and are, just an intermediary between the providers and the Information Affairs Authority and are still in that role,' he said.

Batelco and Zain Bahrain declined to comment.

OSN recently re-located its regional headquarters from Bahrain to Dubai, but pledged all service facilities would go on as usual and none of its customers would face any problems.

It also refused to accept suggestions that the move had anything to do with Bahrain's inability to clampdown on the Dreambox.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | TRA | law | IT | Dreambox | cable TV | satellite broadcasters |

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