TRAI extends CAF deadline to 15 December

MUMBAI: The multi system operators (MSOs) have time till 15 December to submit Consumer Application Forms (CAFs). The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) principal advisor N Parameswaran has shown forbearance and given the MSOs another 15 days to submit 100 per cent CAFs. The earlier deadline to submit CAFs was today, 20 November.

The extension comes after Parameswaran’s meeting with the national MSOs held today in New Delhi. Though the MSOs had their concerns to address, in the meeting that lasted for one and a half hours, TRAI concentrated on two key issues — one, meeting the deadline for submitting CAFs for phase II by 15 December, and another, implementing gross billing from December for phase I.

The meeting was attended by Hathway Cable and Datacom, Siti Cable, InCable, DEN Network, Digicable and GTPL.

“We spoke at length on the issues that each MSO faces in order to comply with the deadline,” says a MSO on request of anonymity. “With LCOs not cooperating with us for submitting duly filled CAFs, and also the ongoing court cases that LCOs have filed to ensure the consumer stays under them, achieving the deadline is difficult,” he says.

“The regulator will show leniency in states like Hyderabad, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat that face problems, but in others it will not act as a Santa Claus if the deadline is not met,” says IndusInd Media and Communications Limited MD Ravi Mansukhani.

According to Mansukhani, the bills are being generated by the MSOs, but the LCOs are not delivering them to the subscribers. “The TRAI has asked us to ensure that the bills should reach the subscribers by December. The regulator has asked us to either convince the LCO to deliver the bills to subscribers or to send them directly to each subscriber,” says Mansukhani.

About 30 to 90 per cent CAFs have been collected so far. “The regulator has taken an average of this figure, which is around 50 per cent, and has said it is not enough. We have been asked to comply with this final deadline,” he mentions.

The MSOs spoke at length on improving their relations with LCOs. “We want each party to realise and reap the benefits of digitisation,” states a MSO.

The MSOs also raised logistic issues they were facing for collecting CAFs. “Unlike phase I which involved the big five players, phase II has several small players involved as well. And this is creating hindrance,” opines Mansukhani.

The MSOs only have a few days to convince the LCOs to get ahead with both CAFs and billing. “It is a tough task, but we will have to give our best,” concludes Mansukhani.

Seems like a difficult Christmas for the MSOs if they fail to meet deadlines.

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