Thursday, 9 June 2016

Regulations undergoing an Overhaul

Result of the recently held Assembly Elections in four states namely Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and in Union Territory Puducherry has made the ruling BJP jubilant as it has won a majority in Assam and made some in roads in the unchartered territories. Rumour is that it has made BJP confident of finding a solution to pass the GST Bill in the Parliament as well as bring other changes in the business environment of the country. 
Jayalalitha making a return in Tamil Nadu for her second term as the Chief Minister has brought the morale of Sun TV Group down and uplifted the hope of State run ARASU cable getting the licence as a Digital MSO. The MSO is already providing services in the state through about 28000  LCOs and running its broadband service as an ISP. She has also promised to provide a free digital STB to each household in the state. 
TRAI, the sector regulator is busy reviewing all the regulations and tariff orders and also keeping the stakeholders busy in studying and commenting on consultation papers on Interconnection Regulations and Quality of Service regulations issued earlier in this month. 
Already consultation on Interconnection Agreements and Interoperability of STBs have ended and it has to give it recommendations now. TRAI has also directed the Pay TV Broadcasters to adhere to its tariff order with twin conditions for fixing RIO and bouquet rates of pay channels.
The regulator has also withdrawn its tariff order allowing 27.5% hike in rates of pay TV channels. TDSAT in its judgment had stayed this order  after it was challenged by many MSOs and Cable Operator associations and later upheld by the Supreme Court too. 
Another Consultation paper issued by TRAI deals with infrastructure sharing in the broadcasting sector. This deals with sharing of transponders by DTH operators and fibre optic cables by MSOs. 
Not only in the broadcasting sector, TRAI has also been active in the telecom sector. Two consultations have come out, on 'free data' and the other on Net Neutrality, a subject that has raised quite a controversy last time when it was taken up. There was a open house held in the Capital on Register of Interconnect Agreements where heated discussion took place on the most disputed regulation of Interconnections between stake holders. Cable Operators still complained of discrimination; lack of transparency and clarity in the system. 
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry celebrated the World Telecom Day on 17 May with a discussion on Social Impact of ICT Sector in the world. Roop Sharma spoke on the ICT role of Cable Operators and its impact. 
Broadcast Asia and CommunicAsia were held in Singapore, end of last month. India had a good presence, both in exhibitors and visitors. We shall do a detailed story in the next issue. 
Now, get cracking with the comments on TRAI’s numerous consultation paper to make your contribution to the regulatory process.


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