Regulators

IDOS 2016: TRAI tariff framework coming next fortnight

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GOA: The draft tariff framework of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to be released in a fortnight. This was declared by TRAI principal advisor (telecom services) Sunil Kumar Gupta in a Skype video conference with indiantelevision.com's founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari at IDOS 2016 here on Friday evening.

"We have taken the views of all the stakeholders while drawing up the framework. It is based on the following four major planks -- non-discriminatory pricing, transparency, consumer protection and overall growth of the industry," he said.

Gupta was clear that the sunset date for Phase IV was unshiftable. "Both MIB and we are very committed to this," he said. "31 December 2016 is the sunset date for DAS Phase IV."

He cautioned that no one should take shelter around the fear that someone may try and scuttle phase IV by approaching the court. "There are enough set top boxes in the country today," he said. "There is no shortage. Hence there can be no delay."

He reiterated that progress on digitisation and DAS has been good. "Revenues from the ground are going up in phase I and phase II," he said. "According to MIB, 93 per cent of phase III has been digitised and in phase IV, there has been some good seeding too."

Gupta also warned that unless interconnection agreements are signed between MSOs and LCOs, the parties would not get any recourse from TDSAT as that is the direction that has been given. "It is important that the agreements are signed," he said. "We have gone around the country and spoken to LCOs around the country. Often times they have been apprehensive about some of the agreements. But when we have explained to them, many of them have not read them properly, and hence the apprehension. When they have been explained and read it, they have gone ahead and done the shining."

He also expected a decisive verdict from the Delhi High Court in the first week of October around the Phase III litigation. Gupta urged the cable community to focus and keep the consumer aware of what was happening through their own networks and encourage him/her about DAS. "It is in the industry's own interest," he stated.

On being asked whether TRAI would intervene and hasten the process on the infrastructure consultation paper, Gupta said there are some people who want to share infrastructure and some who don't. On being prodded if the regulator would intervene if those who don't want it to go through outweigh the ones who want it to, Gupta said, the consultation process would follow its due course. "Infrastructure sharing is between two private players, they can go ahead and do it. I don't see why we need to intervene and mandate infrastructure sharing."

He also insisted that the entire industry - including the cable operators - need to tweak business models and the cable ops need to look at broadband seriously. "There is a lot of upside to broadband," he said. "ARPUs are good over there, they can offer value to the consumer. Change is upon the industry and it needs to embrace this change and drive themselves forward. No telco can offer the kind of services, cable TV can offer, say 40 GB at a price of Rs 700-800 a month. The entire cable TV sector holds a lot of potential. Now the industry needs to realise it."

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