The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday recommended that all analogue signals be phased out by 2013 to allow consumers to watch high quality digital channels of their choice on a-la-carte basis.
Digitization will help companies improve signal quality and offer more interactive and value-added services.
In its recomendation, Trai said the implementation of the digital broadcast signals should take place in a phased manner starting March 2011 in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Cities with population over one million should be digitalised by December, 2011 while in all other urban areas, including municipal corporations, digitalisation should take place by December, 2012.
The broadcasters across the country should completely convert from an analogue-based broadcasting system to digital-based system by December, 2013, said Trai.
"Digital systems have the capacity to deliver many more channels to the consumers than analogue cable. In fact, the capacity crunch and the non-addressable nature of analogue cable TV systems is coming in the way of orderly growth of the cable TV sector in India," it said in a statement.
The regulator also suggested incentives to the service providers who will set up a digital distribution network before the deadline by way of an income tax holiday from April, 2011 or the date of setting up their network, whichever comes first.
Trai also recommended rationalisation of taxes levied on the broadcasting distribution sector.