TRAI recommends restructuring, modernisation of cable TV sector

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New Delhi, Jul 15 (UNI) The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today came out with recommendations for technological upgradation of the cable TV sector and providing a licensing and regulatory framework for it to sustain its growth in a highly competitive atmosphere.

TRAI has also envisaged a major role for the cabel TV in increasing broadband penetration. The country has 78 million cable TV homes.

The recommemndations put emphasis on encouragement of advance transmission technology, network digitization, addressability and encouragement for voluntary CAS.

They also provide for Licensing framework in lieu of present registration system, separate licensing framework for Local Cable TV Operators (LCOs) and Multi System Operators (MSOs), rationalization of eligibility criterion, easy migration arrangement to proposed licensing regime for existing registered Cable TV operators.

According to recommnmedations, licence is to be prescribed for five years with well defined renewal procedures and an administrative cess is to be introduced for effective data collection and monitoring.

A framework for grievance redressal of licence seekers has also been envisaged.

TRAI said changes in the working of the cable TV sector were a must as cable TV transmission in the country was predominantly analogue and limited to provisioning of TV Channels only.

However, due to the absence of any licensing and regulatory frame work for the Cable TV sector, the growth so far may not be sustainable and could slow down the future development and inclusion of advance services in the network.

''This may become more critical as there is a fierce competition to the existing conventional Cable TV operators from operators who use advance distribution technologies like DTH, HITS, IPTV etc,'' it said.

The increasing convergence and likely introduction of NGN will require high speed broadband access to subscribers, and cable TV operators can contribute a lot in this direction as it will not only increase broadband penetration but will drastically improve Cable TV operators business model, said TRAI.

''This will require upgradation of present Cable TV Networks to two-way digital cable network. As the investment opportunities in the sector have also increased, a supportive regulatory environment will facilitate the future growth. The provisions for registration, information system for monitoring of Cable TV industry, customer grievance redressal and Quality of Service etc needs immediate attention,'' it said The Authority has kept in view that most of the existing Cable TV operators did not have huge funds and had already invested considerably in their Cable TV Network. Therefore, proposed regulatory framework has facilitated migration of existing Cable TV operators and all forms of entry barriers have been discouraged, and emphasis has been laid on long term stable, organized, and supportive licensing framework to encourage innovation and investments in the sector, said the telecom regulator.

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