TRAI to look at cable telephony

Chennai: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will look at the issue of permitting inland cable / internet telephony while deciding on the controversial conditional access system (CAS) and pay channels. It may be recalled, TRAI recently issued a discussion paper on the implementation of CAS.

Addressing a press conference in Chennai, the union minister of state for information and broadcasting, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said the Ministry wanted TRAI to take a holistic view of the entire gamut of telecom related issues, including technology, direct to home (DTH), interconnectivity and broadband.

While overseas, telephone services over cable have emerged a major service sector, in India, however, only international calls are allowed by cable operators under internet telephony.

According to Prasad, the Chennai market has a lot of lessons for the channels, multi system operators (MSO) and cable operators in other parts of the country. "After the implementation of CAS, many of the Tamil pay channels have turned free, benefiting consumers. Prior to CAS in Chennai, consumers were paying around Rs.250, per month Today, their monthly bill is only Rs.100," Prasad remarked.

"We are getting representations from other towns in Tamil Nadu to extend CAS throughout the state," he added.

The country has around 4.7 crore cable-connected homes and the industry is growing at 41 per cent, he added. According the minister, the revenues of television channels has grown to Rs.15,000 crore from Rs.900 crore couple of years ago.

Though he said that the government was waiting for the Mitra committee report on the issues facing the 22 FM channels in the country he, however, indicated that the government was willing to migrate to the revenue-sharing model with the first set of FM channel licencees.

See: Trivialising the press meet