Technology

Trai's tariff order gets a mixed response from leading MSOs and DTH service providers

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MUMBAI: Cable TV and DTH industry executives have given a mixed response to the standard tariff package order which they can charge subscribers for set top boxes (STBs) and consumer premise equipment (CPE) that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) announced late last evening. Called The Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Services Fifth - The Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems Tariff Order 2013 and The Telecommunication (Broadcasting & Cable) Sixth -The Direct to Home Services Tariff Order 2013, respectively, they seek to offer another option for buying STBs to TV viewers in India.

Leading Indian MSO DEN Networks COO M.G. Azhar was reasonably happy about the orders being release. Says he: "It is good news. Under the new order, the government has standardised a payback period of three years for the STB/CPEs."

He, however, confessed that he does not know how much of an impact it would have on consumer offtake. "Our experience shows that we have not had too many subscribers opting for the basic STBs which we have been offering to them in the past with similar packages," he reveals. "We used to take Rs 600 or so when a consumer signed on for DEN‘s DAS services and then adjust the cost of the STB through the subscription fees we levied every month. Normally, we have been seeing more offtake coming for the better STBs."

Some like Tata Sky MD and CEO Harit Nagpal said it was too early to respond to the media about the Trai tariff orders. "We are responding to the Trai on this directly," he explained. "We are seeing how quickly we can implement it."

Videocon d2H CEO Anil Khera admitted that he was not so sure if the orders would be acceptable to all. But he added that his company was trying to understand what its impact would be on the DTH sector. "We are currently studying the order and seeking legal advice as well, we are still trying to understand the logistical issues," stated Khera.

Indusind Media & Communications Ltd MD Ravi Manshukhani, was pretty non-committal about the Trai‘s new orders. "Whatever they have put out is absolutely fair, we just hope that we are able to implement whatever is required from our end with support from the government," he stated.

But he also highlighted that the operator should have the right to quote his price for the STBs he is giving his customers. He cautioned: "See the government is playing its part in creating guidelines for the sector, but they do not know what is actually happening on the ground. We have not yet matured as a market to provide what Trai wants. Right now we all are in the process of digitising the country as per the demands of Trai and ministry of information and broadcasting, so we are providing the boxes at whatever prices we can. If there are more rules and regulations like this then it is only going to make things painful."

So the verdict of the industry on the new Trai tariff orders seems rather unclear. Let‘s wait and watch, and see how they react to it over the next few days.

Also read:

Trai issues Tariff Orders for STBs/CPEs for DTH and cable TV operators

TRAI acts tough about DAS; moves court against cable TV ops

Trai issues draft tariff package for STBs/CPEs for DTH and cable TV ops

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