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April 2015

TRAI PLANS QoS AUDITS

TRAI To Visit DAS Networks & Conduct Quality of Service (QoS) Checks

TRAI advisor for Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Goa region Dr Sibichen K Mathew said that the regulator will soon commence QoS inspections & check all service aspects, from installation & repair of Set Top Boxes to choice of channels offered & consumer grievances in DAS networks currently licensed and operational in Phases 1 & 2.

"This inspection is going to start soon, as well as technical audits to monitor the quality of delivery. We will check what MSOs, broadcasters and LCOs are promising and whether or not they are delivering on them," he explained, in Bengaluru.


FINES FOR POOR QOS

As a regulator, the TRAI has the authority to monitor and enforce its regulations. "But, the regulator is being very patient. We know that the sector, which has been totally unorganised, is slowly coming out of the mess," he said. "The TRAI has the authority to levy financial disincentives," he added.





DAS FAILURES

Digitisation has promised different things to different players (except the Last Mile Owner who apparently has little to gain & could even lose contol of his last mile).

The MSO and broadcaster are promised transparency, accountability and higher profits.

The government hopes to get higher tax recovery.

The consumer has been promised a lower bill, by paying only for those channels that he wants to watch, better picture quality, and a larger choice of channels.

DAS has been implemented in Phase 1 & 2 areas for quite some time now, but none of the stake holders including the consumers are happy with the current situation & results. "This is the fourth year (from DAS notification) and now people are asking why the regulator is not taking action," Mathew said.

On the whole, many a time we confuse digitisation with putting STBs at consumer premises. "That may be just 5% of the task. While it starts with putting STBs at consumer homes, the second step is registering every consumer enrolled with the customer application form where the consumer says what his choice is. Unfortunately, there are many procedural lapses in even Phases I and II. Whenever there is a lapse, the ultimate objective is not fulfilled," he added.

The TRAI wants a choice to the consumer, CAF forms dully filled, and the subscriber management system (SMS) in place. "Every MSO should have the SMS in place, which doesn't mean only subscriber details but a proper grievance redressal mechanism."

Talking about Karnataka, he said though digitisation was completed in Bengaluru & Mysore, "We are not very happy with grievance redressal system and it has to strengthen."


CONCERNS

Dr. Mathew agreed that there were many concerns.

"First, there is a lot of disagreement between MSOs, LCOs, and broadcasters. Until and unless you sort out these issues, you are not going to achieve the targets."

"The biggest bottleneck is that there is absolutely no coordination between MSOs, LCOs, and the broadcasters," he said. "Until and unless you have proper agreements on services, revenue sharing, etc., how are you going to do business? There is no consensus on small things like STB repair. Who will do the service? But you have to understand that these are important issues for the consumers," he pointed out.

Dr. Mathew admitted that resources were a constraint. He pointed out that Cable TV services are cheap & India has one of the lowest consumer tariffs. "They [consumers] get to see the channels at a much cheaper price. But the scope of increasing the quality and expanding is unlimited. But for that, you need more resources."


NO DEADLINE EXTENSION

In Maharashtra and Kerala, the TRAI had received a very positive response. "In fact, in Kerala the MSOs who we met recently requested us not to let the deadline extend," Dr. Mathew pointed out.


SETTING AN EXAMPLE

"We need to take lessons from Phases I and II, and create a proper roadmap for the next phases. The biggest challenge before going into the next two phases lies in the backlog."

"Do you have proper billing, call centres, procedures for STB repair, refunds, shifting, etc. in the first two phases? Ultimately, the end consumer should be allowed a smile as he is giving you revenue," he concluded.