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                                         Information @ a Glance
  • A set-top box (STB) or set-top unit (STU) is a device that connects to a television and an external source of signal, turning the signal into content which is then displayed on the television screen.
  • Special digital set-top boxes are available for receiving digital television broadcasts on TV sets that do not have a built in digital tuner.
  • In the case of direct broadcast satellite (mini-dish) systems such as SES Astra, Dish Network, or DirecTV, the set-top box is an integrated receiver/decoder (or IRD).
  • In IPTV networks, the set-top box is a small computer providing two-way communications on an IP network, and decoding the video streaming media. IP set-top boxes have a built in home network interface which can be Ethernet or one of the existing wire home networking technologies such as HomePNA.
  • In the US and France, IPTV is being used by telephone companies  as a means to compete with traditional local cable television monopolies.
  • Most of the set top boxes in France are distributed by the Internet providers and allow the consumer to have access to IPTV, VoIP, Internet and media centre functionalities.
  • In the United Kingdom, digital set-top boxes (often referred to as digiboxes, after Sky Digital's trademark for their unit) are usually for digital terrestrial television through services such as Freeview, a service operated by the Freeview Consortium, or through digital satellite with BSkyB and also with digital cable.
  • They are used to access television as well as audio and interactive services through the "Red Button" promoted by broadcasters such as the BBC with BBCi or Sky with Sky Active.
  • Current Freeview set-top boxes and digital televisions are not capable of decoding the protocol DVB-T2 that terrestrial High-definition will use in 2009, so viewers will need to purchase an HD receiver when the time comes.
  • In Australia set-top boxes are the principal means of receiving digital terrestrial broadcasts as comparably few television sets have in-built digital tuners.
  • The Foxtel set-top boxes  are also used to receive subscription television from Foxtel. For HDTV receiving they are using Beyonwiz manufactured media centers which came to market.
  • In the United States, deployment of a very basic coupon-eligible converter box is supported through a $40 federal subsidy to encourage viewers of over-the-air television to adopt ATSC standards ahead of the planned DTV transition and shutdown of full-power analog broadcasts .
  • These boxes are not as readily available in Canada and Mexico, where broadcasters are not yet required to transition to digital television, although ATSC-capable tuners are appearing in some new TV's and other television-related products such as computer video capture cards and DVD recorders in those nations.
  • Globally, some boxes also have a built-in digital video recorder (or DVR) which often utilises the electronic programme guide scheduling data and records content to an internal hard drive.

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