Bharti Telemedia to TRAI: No need for any change in the current KYC process

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel’s DTH arm Bharti Telemedia Limited replying to a consultation paper released by TRAI in July on KYC of DTH Set-Top Boxes to stop piracy and illegal smuggling to other countries told the regulator that introducing any additional measures for KYC other than what is currently being followed, would only aggravate the financial stress on the Industry and will consequently lead to higher prices for the consumer, without yielding any benefits.

The DTH operator said that the DTH operators were even today following a KYC process and that there was no need for any change in the current process, as it is well-equipped to meet the requirements for the provisioning of DTH services. The operator said that stringent KYC norms were applicable to industries with severe risks and that broadcasting channels through DTH is a unidirectional communication that doesn’t involve any inherent risk.

Bharti Telemedia said that the current comprehensive KYC process followed by the DTH operators mitigates any apprehensions about the misuse of DTH services by the customers. The DTH operators captures the required details of the subscribers in the system and the installation of equipment and demonstration is done at the installation address only and such process aids in establishing the veracity of the customer details.

The operator submitted that the objective to stop illegal smuggling of Set-Top boxes to the other countries cannot be met by introducing any additional requirements with respect to KYC. It also noted that as per its understanding, Aadhar based KYC cannot be used for the said purpose, even after the recent issuance of laws and amendments regarding Aadhar. It noted that mandatory storing of proof of customers’ identity and address would increase costs and logistics while not stopping smuggling, also not being in coherence with the government’s objective of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and Digitization of various processes.

The operator submitted that the need of the hour was to further ease the process of onboarding of the customers and to make it more seamless with Digitization. The Industry is already working towards the use of electronic Customer Application Form (e-CAF) as per TRAI’s direction. On periodic verification, it said that the current one-time KYC process was more than adequate and there was no need for a system of re-verification. The periodic verification would only pose to be a sizeable financial burden for the DTH Industry as well as wastage of resources for non-productive exercise as DTH platforms pose no threat or risks being a unidirectional communication,

Bharti Telemedia also opposed the introduction of location-based services (LBS) in the DTH set-top boxes to track its location. It said that it would only add costs per set-top box along with the developmental costs as this solution will have to be developed specifically for the Indian Market. According to the company’s best knowledge, there is no such implementation of LBS for DTH services anywhere in the world. Given that existing STBs work on a one-way communication system, there is no provision for a return path.

The DTH operator opposed the proposition as it would entail a huge financial burden on the DTH industry, which is already reeling under severe financial pressure. It said, “To address the issues affecting a relatively minuscule number of set-top boxes as compared to the total base, it is not recommended to put the entire Industry and customer base under such unnecessary burden.”

Bharti Telemedia recommended incorporating measures at the border/customs, to mitigate the smuggling of set-top boxes to other countries. It also suggested that effective measures should be taken by the affected countries to control the use of smuggled set-top boxes in their jurisdictions. It also pointed out that customers might raise apprehensions about the DTH Services raising privacy concerns.

DreamDTH had yesterday reported that Tata Sky had also opposed the introduction location-based tracking of STBs or framing new KYC rules. Dish TV, Airtel, and Tata Sky were the only 3 DTH operators to respond to TRAI’s KYC paper. All of them in unison have opposed the questions put forward by TRAI in its consultation paper.

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