TRAI gives more time for responses on infrastructure sharing for TV distribution

NEW DELHI: Even as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India extended to 4 July the deadline for its pre-consultation paper on infrastructure sharing in broadcasting TV distribution sector, it is yet to receive a single response on its paper on ‘Net Neutrality to ensure National Security and Customer Privacy’ despite an extension of date to 5 July.

However, a reproduction of a summary of the pre-consultation paper on Net Neutrality on has elicited around 80,000 responses from consumers.

The paper on infrastructure sharing assumes greater importance with the regulator having issued a paper on opening up the Digital Terrestrial Transmission – a domain so far of Doordarshan – to private television channels.

While the pre-consultation on Infrastructure sharing was issued on 23 May and the deadline for responses was 23 June, the paper on Net Neutrality was issued on 30 May seeking conments by 21 June.

In its paper on Infrastructure sharing, the regulator wanted to know from stakeholders what could be the operational, commercial, technical and regulatory issues which require to be addressed at the time of developing policy and regulatory framework for enabling infrastructure sharing in the broadcasting TV distribution space.

TRAI also asked whether stakeholders envisage any requirement for change in the existing licensing/registration framework laid for DTH, DAS and HITS broadcasting services.

The regulator wants to know what more can be shared by the distributor platform operators (MSOs, HITS, DTH) for better utilization of infrastructure.

TRAI said the pre-consultation paper had been issued with an aim to solicit stakeholder’s views on issues related to sharing of infrastructure on voluntary basis and separation of network and service provider functions so as to reduce cost of distribution of services and enhance competition in respect of all type of TV distribution platforms.

With mounting pressure from different quarters for and against net neutrality, TRAI in its paper on Net Neutrality wants to know what India's policy should be and/or regulatory approach in dealing with issues relating to net neutrality

India is one of the fastest growing information and communication technologies markets in the world, fuelled largely by the cellular mobile revolution. Starting from a few million connections in 1997, there are more than a billion connections, with 97.5% of them being wireless subscribers. With this, the overall teledensity in India at the end of 2015 stood at 81.83%.

India has also witnessed tremendous growth in terms of the total number of Internet users. At the end of December 2015, there were over 331 million Internet subscribers in the country, of which about 94% (over 311 million) were wireless Internet users.

The current nature of telecommunications and internet access services in India is therefore largely wireless. The number of broadband users has also been increasing steadily over the years. At present, India has approximately 136.5 million broadband subscribers, a figure that is expected to rise significantly in the coming years, particularly in light of the Government's ‘Digital India’ initiative.

This initiative emphasizes the electronic delivery of services to all citizens as an urgent national priority, with ‘Broadband for All’ as one of its fundamental pillars. Providing broadband to all will require a significant expansion of service providers’ networks, with substantial investments in infrastructure development.

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