March 2017

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Q: I am a cable operator in Dahanu. I have been informed that Reliance Jio will soon start its DTH service. It already has a Unified Licence to start any service. Can you please provide some details of this new DTH service and its pricing?

Mr. Thakur, Dahanu by phone.

ANS: Yes, Reliance Jio does have a Unified Licence (UL) which is issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT). The DoT is unrelated to Broadcasting. DTH licences are issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Reliance Jio does have an all India MSO licence from the I&B Ministry. However, to the best of our knowledge they have not applied for any DTH licence nor do they have an existing DTH licence.


The Unified Licence issued by DoT provides permission to operate one or more of the following services:

Authorisation under Unified License comprises for any one or more services listed below:

a. Unified License (All Services)

b. Access Service (Service Area-wise)

c. Internet Service (Category-A with All India jurisdiction)

d. Internet Service (Category-B with jurisdiction in a Service Area)

e. Internet Service (Category-C with jurisdiction in a Secondary Switching Area)

f. National Long Distance (NLD) Service

g. International Long Distance (ILD) Service

h. Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) Service

i. Public Mobile Radio Trunking Service (PMRTS) Service

j. Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) Closed User Group (CUG) Service

k. INSAT MSS-Reporting (MSS-R) Service

l. Resale of International private Leased Circuit (IPLC) Service

You will observe that the Unified Licence does not include DTH.

Infact, Clause 2.2 (iv) of the Unified License states:

"The Licensee shall not provide broadcasting services under this License, for which a separate License / registration is required as per Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 and guidelines for DTH License or any other broadcasting service issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. However, provision of IPTV is permitted under the service authorization of Access Service/Internet Service."

Also, according to Jio's company statements, Jio's top priority is the commercial roll out of its mobile telephone services on an all India level. Only after these services are commercially rolled out and stabilised, will Jio divert its attention to other planned services such as Cable Television. So far, Jio has not made any statement regarding its intention to commence DTH services. Hence it seems most unlikely that Jio will commence DTH services in the near future.


Q: I am a cable operator in Karnataka. My MSO refuses to carry Madani TV & QTV. They tell me that these channels are not allowed. However, another MSO in my city is carrying these channels. Are these channels allowed on Indian Cable TV networks? What should I do?

Suraj Kumar By E-Mail.

ANS: Both - Madani TV & QTV are not permitted to be carried by ANY Indian Cable TV or DTH Platform. The channels do not have a downlink licenses, and their content is deemed to be anti-national.

Analog or Digital Headends that carry these channels, can be shut down and their equipment confiscated. The Headend owners also face imprisonment.

You should lodge a complaint at your local police station, against the networks carrying these channels in your area.

Q: The article "Obtain Your Own ISP License" last month, provided some very useful information. However, can you please clarify the following 3 issues?

1. What category of ISP license do I need to obtain, if I plan to start an ISP service in 4 districts, but each district located in a different state? Will I need a Category B or Category C license?

2. You have mentioned that the ISP license fee is 8% of AGR. However, I am told its 6% of AGR. Please confirm.

3. Is there any clause that specifically clarifies that an ISP can deliver its service via a Cable TV network?

Muhammad Ali, By WhatsApp.

ANS: 1. The ISP license application states: "The Service Area for Category 'C' authorization shall be the Secondary Switching Area (SSA) as defined in Annexure- VII. If the Licensee desires to obtain ISP Category 'C' Authorization, under Unified License, for more than 4 SSAs in a Telecom Circle, the Licensee shall be required to obtain ISP Category 'B' authorization for that Service Area."

Since your query is for an ISP operating in only 1 SSA (district) per state (generally, each state is a telecom circle), you will require only a Category C license.

It is useful to remind readers that a Category C license is significantly cheaper (Rs. 90,000) than a Category B ISP license (Rs. 13,15,000). As summarised in Table 2 of the article, the costs involved are:

Category B license: Entry Fee Rs. 2 lakhs + Performance Bank Guarantee Rs. 10 Lakhs + Financial bank Guarantee Rs. 1 lakh + Application Fee Rs. 15,000 = Rs. 13,15,000.

Category C license: Entry Fee Rs. 20,000 + Performance Bank Guarantee Rs. 50,000 + Financial bank Guarantee Rs. 10,000 + Application Fee Rs. 10,000 = Rs. 90,000.

2. The original ISP license fee was 6% Adjusted gross Revenue (AGR).

This was subsequently increased to 8% AGR when Kapil Sibal was the telecom minister. Further, the definition of AGR was revised to include all revenues earned by the ISP, even for sale of equipment, or installation costs. Only the cost of bandwidth purchased and the service tax levied are deductible to arrive at AGR.

All ISPs are today pay 8% AGR. Only, the deduction they are making to arrive at AGR has been challenged.

3. Yes. A cable network has been specifically authorised to deliver internet signals for an ISP. Clause 2.c (viii) of the "License Agreement For Unified License" states: "The Licensee may provide internet service by using the Cable Network of authorized Cable Operator, as last mile linkage, subject to applicable Cable Laws (The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995) as modified from time to time." However, as cautioned in the article, the entire revenues of the cable TV network can be taken and clubbed with the broadband distribution revenues, to arrive at the 8% AGR payable as the ISP license fee!

Q: What is Net Neutrality ? Can you please explain in simple language ? Thank you.

K. Srivastava, Bengaluru

ANS: Net (Internet) Neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally, by the companies delivering it to consumers / the end users. All data over the Internet travels in what are called 'packets' and these packets can contain anything - voice, emails, instant messages, advertising etc.

An open or Neutral 'Net dictates that all data packets be treated the same, regardless of what information the packets carry, or from where they have originated.

Under net neutrality, it is legal to charge for greater consumption of these packets, which means a heavy user of data packets would pay more than light users, but not to price-discriminate based on what the packets themselves contain or where they come from.

Facebook Inc. and its allies, when trying to address the Indian market through the doomed, but cunningly named "Free Basics" plan, violated the principles of net neutrality, because they proposed that some data would be delivered free (obviously subsidised by Facebook or whoever) while other data packets would have to be paid for.

India had no net neutrality laws at the time, so the TRAI invited public opinion via a consultation paper and subsequently took a decision in February 2016 that prohibited telecom service providers from levying different rates for different packet types, thereby effectively establishing net neutrality in India.

This decision is what allows us to make calls on WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and other voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services without being charged extra by companies like Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone India Ltd for bypassing their mobile networks and using the Internet to make voice calls instead.

All that we Indians currently pay for is the actual amount of data packets we send and receive, with no separate rates for what the data packets contain.

Dish Doctor
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