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TRAI issues consultation paper on register of interconnection agreements


30 Aug 2013
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The Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) issued consultation on the register of interconnection agreements between broadcasting and cable services. Stakeholders are requested to furnish their written comments on consultation paper by the 25th April and counter-comments, if any, may be submitted by 9th April.

On examination of the interconnection filing details submitted by the service providers at present, the Authority has inter-alia observed the following:

The filings received from various service providers are not uniform which make the compilation and analysis very difficult.

The requirement in the regulations regarding filing of standard affiliation agreement which is interpreted by many service providers as filing of Reference Interconnect Offers again, leading to duplicity of reporting;

The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable services) Interconnection (Digital Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2012 requires that every broadcaster shall furnish the details of carriage fee paid by it to the Multi System Operator (MSO) to the Authority along with the information furnished under the Register of interconnect agreements (Broadcasting and Cable services) Regulation, 2004. A lack of uniformity has been observed in this regard among the broadcasters in furnishing this information.

Further, the register of interconnection regulations needs to be updated to account various changes subsequently done in regulatory framework.

Presently, the periodicity of the reporting is once in a year. Since, validity of most of the interconnection agreements signed is also one year. By the time these are reported as per the requirement specified under the regulations, their validity is already over. Therefore, in such cases, it is not possible to take any corrective action even if some changes are felt necessary and such agreements become fait accompli.

The sunset date notified by the Central Government for analog signals and to implement Phase-III implementation of digital addressable cable system (DAS) was 31st December 2015. This has resulted in significant penetration of digital signals in urban  and semi urban areas. The digitization of cable services in the rest of the country would be completed by 31st December 2016. This has paved way to large number of MSO registrations with the Government.

As per the latest data available, 757 Multi system operators are registered with Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (as on 26th February, 522 MSOs have been granted provisional registration and 235 MSOs have been granted permanent registration). At present, around 51 Broadcasters have declared either few or all of their channels as pay channels (total 252 TV channels) to the Authority. Therefore, the volume of interconnection agreements is large.

The information reporting system relating to these interconnection agreements should be simple and easy to update. With the pervasiveness of Information and communication technologies (ICTs), the required information is maintained by most of the service providers in the electronic format.

Therefore, it may be easy for them to communicate the required information in the electronic format itself. Taking into account the voluminous nature of the information, its validation and the need to maintain register for easy analysis/ information retrieval; it is felt that the reporting system may be changed to electronic format

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