The Unique Identification (UID) number, or Aadhaar, will soon be considered as valid identity and address proof to get new digital Television services connections.
The country's largest Direct-to-Home (DTH) service provider , Dish TV , has firmed up plans to leverage the benefits of Aadhaar, the unique identification programme , to reach out to customers in rural areas.
Dish TV COO Salil Kapoor said, "With talks on for recognizing Aadhaar as a sole identification number, Dish TV will now recognise the UID as an authorized document for identity as well as address proof. As an industry first, we will be the first DTH operator to accept Aadhaar as valid proof for address and identity for any Dish TV service installation or subscription through all our network of dealers and alternate channels."
Once the Aadhaar programme is put in place across cities and people have bank accounts linked to their ID numbers, we can also consider it as an alternate mode of payment for providing DTH services, Kapoor added.
At present, DTH operators offer prepaid accounts to customers which can be recharged electronically or by purchasing coupons. With the spread of telecom services in rural areas, e-recharge options are increasingly being availed of by consumers.
"As much as 80 per cent of payments are made electronically nowadays. UID would provide an alternate direct payment platform to consumers", informed Kapoor. Dish TV has a base of 9.8 million customers and is looking at crossing the 10-million mark by the end of this financial year.
Executives at Airtel Digital TV too informed the company is evaluating the proposal and is looking at accepting UID as valid proof of identity once the programme matured in the course of the year. "Talks are on among all operators. The industry is considering the programme. However, since the DTH category is a default free model with no security threats arising because of fake identification, there is no immediate requirement. But it can definitely be an option going ahead", said an executive at the company.
Aadhaar is the unique number which is being issued to all residents of India by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). 'Aadhaar' is linked to the resident's demographic and biometric information, which they can use to identify themselves anywhere in India, and to access a host of benefits and services.
Earlier this month, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) too finalized a proposal to accept UID numbers for issuing new connections. Officials at DoT held, UID numbers would help in expediting growth in the telecom sector, especially in rural areas. as UID number can be authenticated online, saving time.
The government plans to issue UID numbers to about 600 million people by 2014. The whole project involves an expenditure of about Rs3,023 crore, which includes project components for issuing the numbers by March 2011, and recurring establishment costs for the entire five-year phase, ending March 2014.