GOA: In this special session, the Maharashtra Cable Operators Federation president Arvind Prabhoo addressed some dire issues currently being faced by the last mile owners (LMOs).
Prabhoo thanked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for pushing digitisation as he feels that the cable industry has been stagnant for nearly 10-12 years. He went on to introduce how the cable industry has been blossoming in India. “Let’s go back to 1989 when we first started to replace nearly eight million fixed line phones with cable and the process was completed in merely two years.”
He elaborated on how the LMOs have been investing and re-investing to improve the quality of signals that have been transmitted to their consumers and this without any financial backing or infrastructure provision.
“Let me demystify an LMO for you - we are entrepreneurs to the core, self-motivated and self-learned men. We have the highest SLA track record among service providers,” he added.
Prabhoo further spoke on the LMOs’ contribution towards the progress of DAS, he said that nearly 95 per cent of the STBs of the two crore boxes have been installed by LMOs in individual houses. “Contrary to common belief, it was us who purchased the boxes from MSOs at subsidised rates and installed in our customers’ homes.”
There is no argument that cable is a preferred medium for better quality of picture and sound, “LMOs are the roots, so strengthen us to face the storms ahead as the economy is going through tough times now.”
He further elaborated on the implementation of DAS and the fact that customers are still to enjoy the benefits of DAS roll out. “The benefits are still invisible for the consumers, there is still no clarity on the ownership of STBs, the consumer has already lost nearly Rs 200 crore in one year alone because of not having the option of just going in for FTA channels (which according to Prabhoo nearly 30 per cent of the customers would prefer watching) and to add to that extra cost charged as entertainment tax… so where are the benefits? And who is gaining out of this?” questioned Prabhoo.
So what is the way ahead for LMOs: Prabhoo expounded, “It’s going to be tough for us, we only stand to lose out customer base and revenue, there will be marginalisation in customer care and the most pressing issue remains the lack of settlement mechanism between MSOs and LMOs.”
What the LMOs are really wishing for is G’NOC’OLISED (globalised, nationalised and localised) content and to work in a mutually beneficial manner with the MSOs and bring about a revolutionising change to the way cable is being perceived today.
“A-la-carte is the way forward, and the customer will always be the one whom we cater to,” ended Prabhoo.