Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Safeguarding Consumer Interest : TRAI

TRAI takes further steps for protection of consumer interests and initiates consultation for Quality of Service aspects for non-CAS cable TV service and DTH services. In an effort to ensure quality services to subscribers residing in non-CAS areas as well as those subscribing to DTH services TRAI issued a consultation paper last year, on 1st December 2008.
The Authority had, earlier in 2004 indicated regarding the code and guidelines for Quality of Service for cable TV services but to no avail. No formal regulations were issued in view of highly fragmented nature of cable TV sector, because of implementation difficulties at ground level. Subsequently, TRAI issued Quality of Service Regulations for cable services for CAS notified Areas in 2006 and in 2007 where in the DTH subscribers too benefited. 

After issuing Quality of Services (QoS) Regulations for cable TV services in CAS notified areas, the Authority felt it appropriate to commence the consultation process for putting in place the quality of service regulations to empower the consumers in non-CAS areas also.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also been addressed for enlarging the scope of the existing district level monitoring committees in order to enable these committees to monitor the proposed Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations. It is a fact that the enforcement of the proposed regulations is a challenging task.
The consultation paper will touch upon facts such as procedures, timelines for connections or disconnections or transfer of cable TV services. The procedure for billing as well as billing related complaints, overall complaint of the addressal system, in areas where cable service providers are providing digital transmission, timeline and the procedure for services relating to provision of digital decoders and STBs (Set-Top-Box) in non-CAS areas. 
Furthermore, it is desirable to have regulatory provisions relating to QoS to be forward looking in-sync with the existing CAS Quality of Services Regulations, and this will help the service providers in seamless migration on QoS front whenever CAS is extended by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in their areas of operation in future. This will also help in achieving the objective of digitalization and addressability in cable services at a faster pace without compromising the quality of service.
The Authority has in fact, taken the opportunity to address new issues also, in this consultation paper. The issues raised for DTH Quality of Services pertain to dropping of channels by the service providers, maintenance and visiting charges and protection to the subscribers regarding their tariff plans. 
TRAI will send its final recommendation to the ministry of Information and Broadcasting after the consultant papers is completed and an open house discussion held for which a date has not been announced as yet.
QoS Issues Involved
 Proper procedures and timelines for connections, disconnections, transfer of cable service.
 Proper procedure for billing and effective mechanism for handling technical and billing related complaints 
 Procedure for overall complaint handling and redressal by the service provider
 Timeline and the procedure for services relating to provision of digital decoders and STBs in non-CAS areas, wherever service providers are providing digital services
 Procedure for informing the subscribers about change of channels alongwith their channel position
 Mechanism of rebates in cases of interruption of service
 Technical standards to be observed by the service providers 
 Effective monitoring of Quality of Service standards


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