With DTH services providing competition to cable TV, which is already under regulatory mechanism, an urgent need is felt for the regulation of DTH services. This is seen largely as an attempt to address concerns of DTH subscribers. It has sought to regulate interconnection issues with regard to DTH under “must-provide”, “must carry” and standardization of agreements. TRAI has sought industry's view on whether quality of service standards for DTH should be mandated, the manner in which it would be done. This Consultation Paper raises questions for consultation on these issues. The Authority requested for written responses from all the stakeholders by 20th March, 2007.
There are a number of issues relating to tariffs, both at the wholesale and at the retail level. The foremost issue is whether there is need for any regulation of DTH tariffs since the DTH service is in fact providing some competition to cable television. Competition provides an excellent method for ensuring the consumer's interests are protected. Accordingly regulation has a rationale when the market does not function or the level of competition is inadequate. It has been seen in the recent past that there has been some competition between the two DTH service providers as well as between DTH and cable. Competitive packages and offers have been made by all the service providers as against the situation just one year back when the consumer had virtually no choice and options. Considering all these developments, it has been decided that these issues should be looked at after some time when the impact of the competition in general, and impact of roll out of the CAS in cable TV in particular can be assessed. Accordingly the tariff issues have not been posed for consultation at present.
The major issues posed for consultation related to interconnection, quality of service standards and regulatory issues regarding set top boxes. At present, Interconnection for DTH is already covered on issues relating to “must provide”. However, the reverse obligations regarding “must carry” as well as issues relating to standardization of agreements have not yet been addressed and these have been raised in the consultation paper. On the quality of service standards, the basic issue is whether these should be mandated and if so, in what manner. Finally, the regulatory issues regarding set top boxes focus on the need for commercial interoperability and whether this should replace the technical interoperability. The major issues posed for consultation are indicated in the box placed alongside.
a. Interconnection issues
(i) Issues relating to standardization of interconnection agreements and use of the reference interconnect offer methodology.
(ii) Issues relating to provision of access to broadcasters, must carry obligations and the related issue of carriage fee.
b. Quality of service standards
(i) Whether quality of service standards for DTH should be mandated and the details of this approach.
(ii) Whether the approach suggested by TRAI for the telecom sector where the TRAI mandates the details of the grievance redressal machinery maintenance of call centre, appointment of nodal officers for grievance redressal and establishment of appellate body can be followed in the case of DTH also.
(iii) Whether quality of service standards can be voluntarily evolved by the service provider.
c. Interoperability of set top boxes
(i) The major issue is whether technical interoperability should be retained or whether it should be replaced by commercial interoperability. (ii) If commercial interoperability is to be introduced then the manner in which this is to be done.