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

NEW DELHI: In order to ensure a smooth migration of customers from one service provider to another without having to re-invest in a new STB, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) today issued draft tariff orders prescribing standard tariff package for set top boxes in digital addressable cable TV systems (DAS) and consumer premises equipments (CPE) for direct-to-home services.

The standard tariff packages for STB/CPE on rental basis are to be offered mandatorily by DTH and cable TV operators. The draft tariff orders have been put on the TRAI site to seek comments of stakeholders by 26 April.

The Tariff Order also assumes significance as it attempts for the first time to give inter-operability to consumers of DTH players.

The authority is of the view that the interests of the consumers can be largely protected through the provision for commercial interoperability of STB. The commercial interoperability provides an exit option for a subscriber in case the subscriber wishes to change the operator for any reason.

Accordingly, in the relevant Regulations/ Tariff orders of Trai, it has been mandated that the operators of Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems and DTH operators shall give an option to every subscriber to procure the STB either on outright purchase basis or hire purchase basis or rental basis, or in accordance with the scheme, if any, prescribed by the Authority. The relevant provisions of various Trai Regulations/ Tariff Order in this regard are attached as Appendix-I.

While interoperability is available to customers of LCOs, Trai observed that in case of DTH services, ‘the predominant DAS platforms at the moment, the schemes for CPEs offered to the subscribers by the DTH operators, have wide variations and at times are such that no viable exit option is available to the subscribers. Instead the consumer has to re-invest in new hardware in case of migration from a particular operator or platform. The same may also hold good in case of the upcoming Digital Addressable Cable TV Systems.‘

The authority is of the view that in order to, provide an easy exit option to the subscribers, ensure availability of STBs at reasonable cost and terms and at the same time to protect the interest of the service providers a Standard Tariff Package, for STBs, as provided for in the existing Regulations/Tariff Orders be prescribed by the Authority.

Accordingly Standard Tariff Package for STBs for DAS has been worked out. In addition to offering the STB as per the Standard Tariff Package prescribed by the Authority, the operators are free to offer their own schemes for supply of STB to its subscribers in accordance with the existing Regulations/ Tariff Orders and the subscribers shall have option to choose from the Standard Tariff Package prescribed by the Authority and the alternative schemes offered by the operators.

Authority has observed that The operators are offering to its subscribers various types of STBs having different features/ capabilities such as "recording facility", "Internet/broadband compatibility", "High definition/ 3D reception capability" etc., in addition to the basic functionalities. Since for such STBs there would be wide variations in terms of features and cost and hence the Standard Tariff Package is provided only for the basic/ vanilla STBs meant for reception of Standard Definition TV signals (SDTV) conforming to the relevant Indian Standard set by the Bureau of Indian Standards.

The Standard Tariff Package for Cable TV operators has been worked out on the basis of the following facts and figures as provided by the Industry stakeholders/ Associations:-

a) The total cost of STB has been taken as Rs. 1750/-.

b) Life span of STB has been taken as 5 years.

c) The residual value has been taken as nil.

d) Rental per month is based on cost of STB on Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) Basis @15% per annum (@1.25% per month) for a period of 60 months.

The Standard Tariff Package for DTH operators has been worked out on the basis of the following facts and figures as provided by Industry stakeholders/ Associations;

a) The total cost of CPE has been taken as Rs. 2250/-.

b) Life span of CPE has been taken as 5 years.

c) The residual value has been taken as nil.

d) Rental per month is based on cost of CPE on Equated Monthly Installment (EMI) Basis @15% per annum (@1.25% per month) for a period of 60 months.

The authority has also noted that no monthly rentals will be payable after the period of five years and the Customer Premises Equipment will become the property of the subscriber (except smart card/viewing card) after the expiry of five years. An amount equal to the sum of security deposit to be refunded per month and interest per month on balance security deposit has been adjusted in Rent per month per Customer Premises Equipment. The Full amount of security deposit stands adjusted in a period of five years.

Up to five years, on returning of the Customer Premises Equipment, the Security Deposit shall be refunded as per attached table-B, provided that the Customer Premises Equipment is not tampered with.

In case of un-installation/discontinuance of service before the last day of the month, balance security deposit shown as refundable at the end of that month will be refunded on return of Customer Premises Equipment.

No repair or maintenance charges would be levied by DTH operator on the subscriber, towards repair or maintenance of Customer Premises Equipment up to the period of five years from activation of the Customer Premises Equipment. The subscriber, however, shall be liable to pay repair and maintenance charges from sixth year onwards.

No installation charges or re-installation charges (except in case of shifting of connection) or activation charges or smartcard/ viewing card charges is to be levied by the DTH operator on the subscriber.

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