New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Wednesday started the consultation process on infrastructure sharing in the television distribution sector, which will enable the distribution platform operators (DPOs) to share the available resources and reduce their costs.
DPOs obtain the television channels from the broadcasters and deliver these channels to the subscribers through cable TV, direct-to-home (DTH) operators, and head-end in the sky (HITS) networks.
Currently, the DPOs establish and maintain their own infrastructure for distribution of satellite television services to the subscribers. There are six private DTH operators, two HITS operators, 900 multi-system operators (MSOs), few internet protocol television (IPTV) operators and 60,000 cable operators in the country.
According to a statement issued by the regulator, there is scope for better utilization of infrastructure in the sector since most of the television channels re-transmitted by the DPOs are common. “This may result in optimum utilization of available infrastructure and reduction in the capital and operating expenditures of the operators, which may ultimately benefit the subscribers,” Trai said in the statement.
This paper comes after the regulator on 23 May had issued a pre-consultation paper to identify all the likely issues associated with the sharing of available infrastructures between various distribution platforms.
Additionally, the regulator has also been asked by the information & broadcasting (I&B) ministry to examine the issue of infrastructure sharing by MSOs, LCOs and HITS operators and submit its recommendations for the necessary amendments to be made in the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 and Rules made there under.
“The objective of the consultation is to issue recommendations to the government of India to formulate a policy framework for enabling infrastructure sharing by DPOs, to promote healthy competition among the service providers and to identify the changes required in the Cable TV Act and Rules,” Trai said in the statement.
MSOs and LCOs had welcomed the move after the pre-consultation paper. “Providing signals to the consumers in remotest areas comprising small towns, villages etc. requires huge amount of investments and deployment of additional resources which also adds up to the burden and the overall cost of the MSOs,” Den Networks said in comments uploaded on Trai website, adding that this move will help in achieving economies of scale and optimum utilization of resources.
Roop Sharma, president of the Cable Operators Federation of India, said this move has been long overdue. “We have been demanding this for a long time. There is a need of regulation and clarity in the infrastructure sharing segment. We hope the regulator comes up with a transparent framework,” she said.