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TRAI sets quality norms for cable operators in non-CAS areas news
25 February 2009

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued quality norms for broadcasting and cable services which are not covered by the conditional access system (CAS) regulations.

TRAI has given service providers time till 1 April 2009 to take necessary steps to comply with these regulations.

The Standards of Quality of Service (Broadcasting and Cable Services) (Cable Television Non-CAS Areas) Regulations, 2009 will empower the
consumers for receiving quality service from the cable TV service providers in non-CAS areas, a TRAI release said.

The main features of the regulations are:

  • Procedure for connection, disconnection and reconnection of cable services within seven days;
  • Making it compulsory for cable operators to issue bills and receipts to cable TV subscribers;
  • Complaint handling and its redressal, including maintaining helpdesk from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm everyday;
  • Standards for provisioning of digital decoders and set top boxes for voluntary CAS;
  • Compulsory technical standards to be observed by the cable operators,
  • including a good quality, measurable signal strength at subscriber's end,
  • maintaining six-hour power backup etc; and
  • Monitoring of quality of service standards.

There are more than 80 million consumers receiving cable TV services in non-CAS areas, being served by about 60,000 cable operators. No formal regulations for quality of service (QoS) were issued so far in view of the highly fragmented nature of cable TV sector and because of implementational difficulties at ground level. TRAI has issued Quality of Service Regulations for cable services for CAS notified areas in 2006. The DTH subscribers are also benefited by the Quality of Service Regulations for DTH services issued by TRAI in 2007.

TRAI has discussed the issues of quality of service for cable TV services in non-CAS areas in a consultation paper released on 1 December 2008. The comments of the stakeholders on the subject were invited by 10 January 2009. Responses received from 27 stakeholders/representatives were posted on TRAI's website on 19 January 2009. An open house discussion was then held on 6 February 2009 in Kolkata with representatives of stakeholders to further deliberate on various issues raised in the paper.

Based on the analysis of inputs received during consultation process, the TRAI has decided in favour of issuing QoS regulations for highly fragmented non-CAS cable TV networks across the country. The TRAI, while framing these regulations, appreciated the voluntary digitalisation and adoption of addressability by some of the service providers in non-CAS areas, and accordingly provisions have been made for seamless migration on QoS front whenever CAS is extended by the ministry of information and broadcasting in their areas of operation in future.

TRAI said it has already written to the state governments for involving the district administration for enforcement of QoS regulations at the grass root level. Twelve state governments have so far extended their consent for such proposal. Some of the remaining states are examining it, responses from others are awaited, it said.

The state governments will enforce the regulations as per their consent. In addition, the consumers can approach District Consumer Forum if the QoS standards are not met by the cable operators, TRAI said.

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TRAI sets quality norms for cable operators in non-CAS areas