Dec 1, 2008

India - Trai to regulate quality of cable TV service in non-Cas areas

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will be putting in place the Quality of Service (QoS) regulations for cable TV subscribers in non-Cas (conditional access system) areas.

As a first step, the sector regulator has issued a consultation paper seeking the views of stakeholders on this before 31 December, 2008.

For direct-to-home (DTH) services, Trai has sought opinion on QoS issues pertaining to dropping of channels by the service providers, maintenance and visiting charges, and protection to the subscribers regarding their tariff plans.

Trai has also urged the Information and Broadcasting ministry to enlarge the scope of the existing District level monitoring committees in order to enable them to monitor the proposed QoS Regulations in non-Cas areas.

Additionally, the Authority has written to various state governments for effective monitoring and enforcement of QoS parameters, once the regulations are issued for non-Cas areas.

Earlier, Trai had issued QoS Regulations for cable TV services in Cas notified areas.

Trai admits that the enforcement of the proposed regulations is a challenging task as there are a very large number of cable operators widely spread over large geographical areas.

The sector said this will help the service providers in seamless migration on QoS front whenever Cas is extended by the ministry in their areas of operation in future. "This will also help in achieving the objective of digitalisation and addressability in cable services at a faster pace without compromising the quality of service," Trai added.

The questions raised by Trai pertain to proper procedures and timelines for connections, disconnections, transfer of cable services, proper procedure for billing and effective mechanism for handling technical and billing related complaints, procedure for overall complaint handling and redressal by the service provider, timeline and the procedure for services relating to provision of digital decoders and STBs (set-top boxes) in non-Cas areas, wherever service providers are providing digital services, procedure for informing the subscribers about change of channels alongwith their channel position, mechanism of rebates in cases of interruption of service, technical standards to be observed by the service providers, and effective monitoring of QoS standards.

The paper notes that there are nearly 78 million consumers receiving cable TV services in non-Cas areas, being served by about 60,000 cable operators. In 2004, the Authority had indicated the code and guidelines for QoS for cable TV services. However, no formal regulations were issued in view of highly fragmented nature of cable TV sector, because of implementational difficulties at ground level.

Subsequently, Trai issued QoS Regulations for cable services for Cas notified areas in 2006. The DTH subscribers are also benefited by the QoS Regulations for DTH issued by Trai in 2007.

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