TRAI urged to ensure signals to LCOs not disrupted following withdraw its hike-linked tariffs

NEW DELHI: Following the decision of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to withdraw its hike-based tariff orders of 27.5 per cent, the reguator has been urged to issue orders asking multisystem operators not to disconnect the signals received by last mile networks (LCO) during this crucial period of observing the tariff and arrears adjustment period (TAAP).

The regulator has also been urged to ask MSOs to to make any package alterations, activations or deactivations in set top boxes for the smooth adjustment of the increase / hike made payable by LCOs from 1 April 2014 till 30 June 2016.

In a detailed letter to TAI Chairman R S Sharma, both National Cable and Telecommunication Association and Cable Operators Federation of India has said that a similar direction may be given to the Pay TV Broadcasters and they be directed to bring back the tariff as existing on 31 March 2014.

In the pre-paid MSO business model, adequate credit should be maintained by the MSO in the system during this period of our observing TAAP, for the adjustment of the increase / hike made payable by us from 1 April 2014 till 30 June 2016.

The two organizations have also said that in case of any discrepancy or for reconciliation of accounts by the MSO, if needed, Rendition of the “Separate Accounts “kept be made in order to ascertain the discrepancy and reconciliation of the accounts.
The letter by NCTA President Vikki Choudhry and COFI President Roop Sharma have pointed out that the regulator had itself withdrawn its tariff-linked tariff orders in the light of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal setting aside the two orders which had allowed for one installment of 15% from 1 April 2014 and the second hike of 12.5% allowed both at the retail and wholesale levels from 1 January 2015.

In view of the TDSAT order and subsequent withdrawal of the orders, there is an immediate need to adjust the increased payments if made by the subscribers to the LCOs, LCOs to the MSOs and MSOs to the broadcasters.

“This TAAP observed to adjust our rightful and legitimate arrears due, upon the MSO, should not be construed as a default in payment or non-payment of agreed / negotiated / invoiced payments due, under an interconnection agreement entered with the MSO in any manner whatsoever or otherwise. Statutory payment obligations towards applicable Entertainment Tax and Service Tax will continue to be fulfilled as is, during this period of observing TAAP by the stakeholders”, the letter said.

The last mile LCOs will also enclose a copy of the last paid invoice / bank statement of the payments made / released to the respective MSO in order to also certify that there are no outstanding dues payable on them as on date.

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